Marrow of Methodism:
REV. JOHN WESLEY, M.A.
WITH BRIEF INTRODUCTION AND ANALYSIS
REV BENJAMIN GREGORY, D.D.
2, CASTLE STREET, CITY ROAD, EC. ;
SOLD AT 6 6, PATERNOSTER ROW, E.C.
HAYMAN BROTHEKS AND LILLT,
HATTON HOU8E, 113, FABRINODON BOAD,
THE value of Wesley's sermons, as sources of personal
" instruction in righteousness," and especially to any
one who has anything to do with religious teaching, or
'" the cure of souls." whether as " separated unto the Gospel
of God," as a Local-preacher or as a Class-leader, it is
scarcely possible to over-estimate. Yet they are so simple,
so severely chaste in language, so unornamented and " plain
in neatness," that it is to be feared they are much more
praised than read. We know no work so useful in clearing
the doubts of believers, and explaining to them their own
state. And what security have we that the Methodist pulpit
and the Methodist Class-room will retain their power and
fulfil their Providential mission unless the characterisiic
principles of Wesley's teaching be embodied in that of the
Preachers and Leaders? Moreover, we cannot fully feel
Charles Wesley's hymns if unfamiliar with John Wesley's
sermons. It has occurred to us that perhaps the best way
of bringing out the instructiveness of these remarkable
discourses, would be to show how they supply answers to
questions which must be incessantly putting themselves to
thoughtful Christians, especially those who have to guide
others. We therefore! choose twelve sermons as samples
of Wesley's teaching. We have appended a few questions,
simply for the sake of directing attention to the principal
points. It will be especially seen with what wonderful
clearness and precision the true Doctrines of Grace are pre-
sented in Wesley's standard sermons.
Salvation by Faith . 1
Ephesians ii. 8. — By grace are ye saved through faith.
The Righteousness of Faith 13
Romans x. 5 — 8. — lUoxes describeth the righteousness which
is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall
live by them : Sfc.
The Way to the Kingdom 27
Mark i. 15. — The kingdom of God is at hand : repent ye,
and believe the Gospel.
The Fiest Fruits of the Spieit 39
Romans viii. 1. — There is therefore now no condemnation to
them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the
flesh, but after the Spirit.
The Spieit of Bondage and Adoption 53
Romans viii. 15. — Ye hare not received the spirit of bondage
again unto fear ; but ye have received the Spirit of
adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
The Witness of the Spieit. — i. 70
Romans viii. 16. — Tlie Spirit itself beareth witness with our
spirit, that we arc the children of God.
The Witness of the Spieit. — n. 84
Romans viii. 16. — The Spirit itself beareth witness with our
spirit, th.it we are the children of God.
Ox Sin in Believers 90
2 Corin hians v. 17. — If any man be in Clirist, he is a new
The Repentance of Believees 114
Mark i. 15. — Ilcpcnt ye, and believe the Gospel.
Sermon on the Mount. — n. . 131
Matthew v. 5 — 7. — Blessed are the meek : <S'c.
The Obiginal, Natuee, Peoperty, And Use of the Law 150
Romans vii. 12. — Wherefore the law is holy, and the com-
mandment holy, and just, and good.
Satan's Devices 1<>7
2 Corinthians ii. 11. — We are not ignorant of his devices.
SALVATION BY FAITH :
ST. mart's, oxford, before the university,
OS juxe 18, 1738.
"By grace are ye saved through faith." — Eph. ii. 8.
ALL the blessings which God hath bestowed upon man are
of His mere grace, bounty, or favour; His free, unde-
served favour ; favour altogether undeserved ; man having
no claim to the least of His mercies. It was free grace that
''formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into
him a living soul," and stamped on that soul the image of
God, and " put all things under his feet." The same free
grace continues to us, at tin's day, life, and breath, and all
things. For there is nothing we are, or have, or do, which
can deserve the least thing at God's hand. " All our works,
thou, God, hast wrought in us." These, therefore, are so
many more instances of free mercy: and whatever right-
eousness may be found in man, this is also the gift of God.
2. Wherewithal then shall a sinful man atone for any the
least of his sins ? With his own works ? No. Were they
ever so many or holy, they are not his own, but God's. But
indeed they are all unholy and sinful themselves, so that
every one of them needs a fresh atonement. Only corrupt
fruit grows on a corrupt tree. And his heart is altogether
coiTupt and abominable ; being " come short of the glory of
2 SALVATION BY FAITH.
God," the glorious righteousness at first impressed on his
soul, after the image of his great Creator. Therefore,
having nothing, neither righteousness nor works, to plead,
his mouth is utterly stopped before God.
3. If then sinful men find favour with. God, it is " grace
upon grace ! " If God vouchsafe still to pour fresh blessings
upon us, yea, the greatest of all blessings, salvation ; what
can we say to these things, but, " Thanks be unto God for His
^unspeakable gift ! " And thus it is. Herein " God com-
mendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet
sinners, Christ died " to save us. " By grace " then " are
ye saved through faith." Grace is the source, faith the con-
dition, of salvation.
Now, that we fall not short of the grace of God, it con-
cerns us carefully to inquire,
I. What faith it is through which we are saved.
II. What is the salvation which is through faith.
HI. HOW WE MAY ANSWER SOME OBJECTIONS.
I. What faith it is through which we are saved.
1. And, first, it is not barely the faith of a Heathen.
Now, God requireth of a Heathen to believe, " that God is ;
that He is a resvarder of them that diligently seek Him; "
and that He is to be sought by glorifying Him as God, by
giving Him thanks for all things, and by a careful practice of
moral virtue, of justice, mercy, and truth, toward their fel-
low-creatures. A Greek or Roman, therefore, yea, a Scythian
or Indian, was without excuse if he did not believe thus
-much : the being and attributes of God, a future state of
reward and punishment, and the obligatory nature of moral
virtue. For this is barely the faith of a Heathen.
2. Nor, secondly, is it the faith of a devil, though this goes
much farther than that of a Heathen. For the devil believes
not only that there is a wise and powerful God, gracious to
reward, and just to punish ; but also, that Jesus is the Son of
God, the Christ, the Saviour of the world. So we find him
declaring, in express terms, " I know Thee who Thou art ; the
SALVATION BY FAITH. , Jj
Holy One of God." (Luke iv 34.) JSTor can we doubt but
that unhappy spirit believes all those words which came out
of the mouth of the Holy One ; yea, and whatsoever else
was written by those holy men of old, of two of whom he
was compelled to give that glorious testimony, " These men
are the servants of the most high God, who show unto you
the way of salvation." Thus much, then, the great enemy of
God and man believes, and trembles in believing, — that God
was made manifest in the flesh; that He will "tread all enemies
under His feet ; " and that " all Scripture was given by in-
spiration of God." Thus far goeth the faith of a devil.
3. Thirdly. The faith through which we are saved, in
that sense of the word which will hereafter be explained, is
not barely that which the Apostles themselves had while
Christ was yet upon earth ; though they so believed on Him as
to "leave all and follow Him; " although they had then power
to work miracles, to " heal all manner of sickness, and all
manner of disease ; " yea, they had then " power and
authority over all devils ; " and, which is beyond all this,
were sent by their Master to " preach the kingdom of God."
4. What faith is it then through which we are saved ?
It may be answered, first, in general, it is a faith in Christ :
Christ, and God through Christ, are the proper objects of it.
Herein, therefore, it is sufficiently, absolutely distinguished
from the faith either of ancient or modern Heathens. And
from the faith of a devil it is fully distinguished by this, it is
not barely a speculative, rational thing, a cold, lifeless assent,
a train of ideas in the head ; but also a disposition of the
heart. For thus saith the Scripture, " With the heart man
believeth unto righteousness ; " and, " If thou shalt confess
with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thy heart
that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved."
5. And herein does it differ from that faith which the
Apostles themselves had while our Lord was on earth, that it
acknowledges the necessity and merit of His death, and the
power of His resurrection. It acknowledges His death as the
only sufficient means of redeeming man from death eternal,
and His resurrection as the restoi-ation of us all to life and
4 SALVATION BY FAITH.
immortality ; inasmuch as He " was delivered for our sins,
and rose again for our justification." Christian faith is then,
not only an assent to the whole Gospel of Christ, but also a
full reliance on the blood of Christ ; a trust in the merits of
His life, death, and resurrection ; a recumbency upon Him
as our atonement and our life, as given for us, and living in us ;
and, in consequence hereof, a closing with Him, and cleaving
to Him, as our " wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and
redemption," or, in one word, our salvation.
II. "What salvation it is, which is through this faith, is
the second thing to be considered.
i. And, first, whatsoever else it imply, it is a present
salvation. It is something attainable, yea, actually attained,
on earth, by those who are partakers of this faith. For thus
saith the Apostle to the believers at Ephesus, and in them to
the believers of all ages, not, Ye shall be, (though that also
is true,) but, " Ye are saved through faith."
2. Ye are saved (to comprise all in one word) from sin.
This is the salvation which is through faith. This is that
great salvation foretold by the angel, before God brought His
First-begotten into the world : " Thou shalt call His name
Jesus ; for He shall save His people from their sins." And
neither here, nor in other parts of holy writ, is there any
limitation or restriction. All His people, or, as it is else-
where expressed, " all that believe in Him," He will save from
all their sins ; from original and actual, past and present sin,
" of the flesh and of the spirit." Through faith that is in
Him, they are saved both from the guilt and from the power
3. First, from the guilt of all past sin : for, whereas all
the world is guilty before God, insomuch that should He
" be extreme to mark what is done amiss, there is none
that could abide it ; " and whereas, "by the law is" only
"the knowledge of sin," but no deliverance from it, so that
" by " fulfilling " the deeds of the law, no flesh can be justi-
fied in His sight ; " now, " the righteousness of God, which
is by faith of Jesus Christ, is manifested unto all that believe."
SALVATION BT FAITH. 5
Now, " they are justified freely by His grace, through the re-
demption that is in Jesus Christ." '" Him God hath set forth
to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His
righteousness for (or by) the remission of the sins that are
past." Now hath Christ taken away " the curse of the law,
being made a curse for ns." He hath " blotted out the hand-
writing that was against us, taking it out of the way, nailing
it to His cross." " There is therefore no condemnation now
to them which " believe " in Christ Jesus."
4. And being saved from guilt, they are saved from fear.
Not indeed from a filial fear of offending; but from all servile
fear ; from that fear which hath torment ; from fear of punish-
ment ; from fear of the wrath of God, whom they now no
longer regard as a severe master, but as an indulgent Father.
" They have not received again the spirit of bondage, but the
Spirit of adoption, whereby they cry, Abba, Father : the
Spirit itself also bearing witness with their spirits, that they
are the children of God." They are also saved from the
fear, though not from the possibility, of falling away from
the grace of God, and coming short of the great and precious
promises. Thus have they " peace with God through our
Lord Jesus Christ. They rejoice in hope of the glory of
God. And the love of God is shed abroad in their hearts,
through the Holy Ghost, which is given unto them." And
hereby they are persuaded, (though perhaps not at all times,
nor with the same fulness of persuasion,) that " neither death,
nor life, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height,
nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate
them from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our
5. Again: through this faith they are saved from the
power of sin, as well as from the guilt of it. So the Apostle
declares, "Ye know that He was manifested to take away
our sins ; and in Him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in Him
sinneth not." (1 John iii. J3, etc.) Again : "Little children,
let no man deceive you. He that committeth sin is of the
devil. Whosoever believeth is born of God. And whosoever
is born of God doth not commit sin ; for His seed remaineth
6 SALVATION BT FAITH.
in him : an*d lie cannot sin, because lie is bom of God.
Once more: "We know that whosoever is born of God
sinneth not ; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself,
and that wicked one toucheth him not." (1 John v. 18.)
6. He that is, by faith, born of God sinneth not, (1.) By
any habitual sin ; for all habitual sin is sin reigning : but
sin cannot reign in any that believeth. Nor, (2.) By any
wilful sin ; for his will, while he abideth in the faith, is
utterly set against all sin, and abhorreth it as deadly poison.
ISTor, (3.) By any sinful desire ; for he continually desireth
the holy and perfect will of God ; and any tendency to an
unholy desire, he by the grace of God, stifleth in the birth.
Nor, (4.) Doth he sin by infirmities, whether in act, word,
or thought ; for his infirmities have no concurrence of his
will ; and without this they are not properly sins. Thus,
" he that is born of God doth not commit sin : " and though
he cannot say, he hath not sinned, yet now " he sinneth
7. This then is the salvation which is through faith, even
in the present world : a salvation from sin, and the conse-
quences of sin, both often expressed in the word justification ;
which, taken in the largest sense, implies a deliverance from
guilt and punishment, by the atonement of Christ actually
applied to the soul of the sinner now believing on Him, and
a deliverance from the power of sin, through Christ formed
in his heart. So that he who is thus justified, or saved by
faith, is indeed born again. He is born again of the Spirit
unto a new life, which " is hid with Christ in God." And
as a new-bom babe he gladly receives the aSoXov " sincere
milk of the word, and grows thereby;" going on in the
might of the Lord his God, from faith to faith, from grace
to grace, until at length, he come unto " a perfect man unto
the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ."
III. The first usual objection to this is,
1. That to preach salvation, or justification, by faith onlv
is to preach against holiness and good works. To which a
ghort answer might be given ; " It would be so, if we spake
SALVATION' BY FAITH. 7
as some do, of a faith which was separate from these ; but
we speak of a faith which is not so, but productive of all
good works, and all holiness."
2. But it may be of use to consider it more at large ;
especially since it is no new objection, but as old as St. Paul's
time : for even then it was asked, " Do we not make void the
law through faith ? " We answer, first, all who preach not
faith do manifestly make void the law ; either directly and
grossly, by limitations and comments that eat out all the
spirit of the text ; or, indirectly, by not pointing out the
only means whereby it is possible to perform it. Whereas,
secondly, "we establish the law," both by showing its full
extent and spiritual meaning ; and by calling all to that
living way, whereby " the righteousness of the law may be
fulfilled in them." These, while they trust in the blood of
Christ alone, use all the ordinances which He hath appointed,
do all the " good works which He had before prepared that
they should walk therein," and enjoy and manifest all holy
and heavenly tempers, even the same mind that was in
3. But does not preaching this faith lead men into pride ?
We answer, Accidentally it may : therefore ought every
believer to be earnestly cautioned, in the words of the great
Apostle, " Because of unbelief," the first branches " were
broken off ; and thou standest by faith. Be not high-
minded, but fear. If God spared not the natural branches,
take heed lest He spare not thee. Behold therefore the
goodness and severity of God ! On them which fell, severity ;
but towards thee, goodness, if thou continue in His goodness;
otherwise thou also shalt be cut off." And while he continues
therein, he will remember those words of St. Paul, foresee-
ing and answering this very objection, (Rom. iii. 27,) "Where
is boasting then'r 1 It is excluded. By what law? of works ?
Nay : but by the law of faith." If a man were justified by
his works, he would have whereof to glory. But there is no
glorying for him " that worketh not, but believeth on Him
that justifieth the ungodly." (Rom. iv. 5.) To the same
effect are the words both preceding and following the text
8 SALVATION BY FAITH.
(Eph. ii. 4, Ac. :) " God, who is rich in mercy, even when
we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ,
(by grace ye are saved,) that He might show the exceeding
riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through
Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith ;
and that not of yourselves." Of yourselves cometh neither
your faith nor your salvation : "it is the gift of God ; " the
free, undeserved gift ; the faith through which ye are saved,
as well as the salvation which He of His own good pleasure,
His mere favour, annexes thereto. That ye believe, is one
instance of His grace ; that believing ye are saved, another.
" Not of works, lest any man should boast." For all our
works, all our righteousness, which were before our believing,
merited nothing of God but condemnation ; so far were they
from deserving faith, which therefore, whenever given, is
not of works. Neither is salvation of the works we do
when we believe ; for it is then God that worketh in us :
and, therefore, that He giveth us a reward for what He
Himself worketh, only commendeth the riches of His mercy,
but leaveth us nothing whereof to glory
4. However, may not the speaking thus of the mercy of
God, as saving or justifying freely by faith only, encourage
men in sin ? Indeed, it may and will : many will V: continue
in sin that grace may abound ; " but their blood is upon their
own head. The goodness of God ought to lead them to. re-
pentance; and so it will those who are sincere of heart.
When they know there is yet forgiveness with Him, they
will cry aloud that He would blot out their sins also, through
faith which is in Jesus. And if they earnestly cry, and
faint not; if they seek Him in all the means He hath
appointed; if they refuse to be comforted till He come;
" He will come, and will not tarry." And He can do much
work in a short time. Many are the examples, in the Acts
of the Apostles, of God's working this faith in men's hearts
even like lightning falling from heaven. So in the same
hour that Paul and Silas began to preach, the jailer repented
believed, and was baptized ; as were three thousand, by St.
Peter, on the day of Pentecost, who all repented and believed
SALVATION BY FAITH. 9
at his first preaching. And, blessed be God, there are now
many living proofs that He is still "mighty to save."
j. Yet to the same truth, placed in another view, a quite
contrary objection is made : "If a man cannot be saved by
all that he can do, this will drive men to despair." True, to
despair of being saved by their own works, their own merits,
or righteousness. And so it ought ; for none can trust in
the merits of Christ, till he has utterly renounced his own.
He that " goeth about to establish his own righteousness "
cannot receive the righteousness of God. The righteousness
which is of faith cannot be given him while he trusteth in
that which is of the law.
6. But this, it is said, is an uncomfortable doctrine. The
devil spoke like himself, that is, without either truth or
shame, when he dared to suggest to men that it is such. It
is the only comfortable one, it is " very full of comfort," to
all self -destroyed, self -condemned sinners. That " whosoever
believeth on Him shall not be ashamed : that the same Lord
over all is rich unto all that call upon Him : " here is comfort,
high as heaven, stronger than death ! What ! Mercy for all V
For Zaccheus, a public robber ? For Mary Magdalene, a
common harlot ? Methinks I hear one say, " Then I, even I,
may hope for mercy ! " And so thou mayest, thou afflicted
one, whom none hath comforted ! God will not cast out thy
prayer. Nay, perhaps He may say the next hour, " Be of
good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee ; " so forgiven, that
they shall reign over thee no more ; yea, and that " the Holy
Spirit shall bear witness with thy spirit that thou art a
child of God." glad tidings ! tidings of great joy, which
are sent unto all people ! " Ho, every one that thirsteth,
come ye to the waters : come ye, and buy, without money and
without price." Whatsoever your sins be, " though red like
crimson," though more than the hairs of your head, "return
ye unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon you ; and to
our God, for He will abundantly pardon."
7. When no more objections occur, then we are simply
told, that salvation by faith only ought not to be preached as
the first doctrine, or, at least, not to be preached to all. But
10 SALVATION BT FAITH.
what saith the Holy Ghost ? " Other foundation can no man
lay than that which is laid, even Jesns Christ." So then,
that " whosoever believeth on Him shall he saved," is, and
must be, the foundation of all our preaching ; that is, must be
preached first. " Well, but not to 'all:" To whom then are we
not to preach it ? Whom shall we except ? The poor ? Nay ;
they have a peculiar right to have the Gospel preached unto
them. The unlearned ? No. God hath revealed these things
unto imlearned and ignorant men from the beginning. The
young ? By no means. " Suffer these," in anywise, to come
unto Christ, " and forbid them not." The sinners ? Least of
all. " He came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repent-
ance." Why then, if any, we are to except the rich, the
learned, the reputable, the moral men. And, it is true, they
too often except themselves from hearing; yet we must speak
the words of our Lord. For thus the tenor of our commission
runs, " Go and preach the Gospel to every creature." If any
man wrest it, or any part of it, to his destruction, he must
bear his own burden. But still, " as the Lord liveth, whatso-
ever the' Lord saith unto us, that we will speak."
8. At this time, more especially, will we speak, that " by
grace are ye saved through faith : " because, never was the
maintaining this doctrine more seasonable than it is at this
day. Nothing but this can effectually prevent the increase
of the Romish delusion among us. It is endless to attack,
one by one, all the errors of that Church. But salvation by
faith strikes at the root, and all fall at once where this is
established. It was this doctrine, which our Church justly
calls the strong rock and foundation of the Christian religion
that first drove Popery out of these kingdoms ; and it is this
alone can keep it out. Nothing but this can give a check to
that immorality which hath " overspread the land as a flood."
Can you empty the great deep, drop by drop ? Then you may
reform us by dissuasives from particular vices. But let the
" righteousness which is of God by faith " be brought in and
so shall its proud waves be stayed. Nothing but this can stop
the mouths of those who " glory in their shame, and openly
deny the Lord that bought them." They can talk as sublimely
SALVATION BY FAITH. 11
of the law, as lie that hath it written by God in his heart. To
hear them speak on this head might incline one to think they
were not far from the kingdom of God : but take them out of
the law into the Gospel ; begin with the righteousness of faith;
with Christ, " the end of the law to everyone that believeth ; "
and those who but now appeared almost, if not altogether,
Christians, stand confessed the sons of perdition ; as far from
life and salvation (God be merciful unto them !) as the depth
of hell from the height of heaven.
9. For this reason the adversary so rages whenever " salva-
tion by faith " is declared to the world : for this reason did he
stir up earth and hell, to destroy those who first preached it.
And for the same reason, knowing that faith alone could over-
turn the foundations of his kingdom, did he call forth all his
forces, and employ all his arts of lies and calumny, to affright
Martin Luther from reviving it. Nor can we wonder thereat ;
for, as that man of God observes, " How would it enrage a
proud strong man armed, to be stopped and set at nought by
a little child coming against him with a reed in his hand ! "
especially, when he knew that little child would surely over-
throw him, and tread him under foot. Even so, Lord Jesus !
Thus hath Thy strength been ever "made perfect in weakness !"
Go forth then, thou little child that belie vest in Him, and His
" right hand shall teach thee terrible things ! " Though thou
be as helpless and weak as an infant of days, the strong man
shall not be able to stand before thee. Thou shalt prevail over
him, and subdue him, and overthrow him, and trample him
under thy feet. Thou shalt march on, under the great Captain
of thy salvation, " conquering and to conquer," until all thine
enemies are destroyed, and "death is swallowed up in victory."
Now, thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ ; to whom, with the Father
and the Holy Ghost, be blessing, and glory, and wisdom,
and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, for
ever and ever. Amen.
From what besides the faith of a Heathen and the faith of devils does
Wesley make saving faith to differ 1
12 SALTATION BT FAITH.
It " is not barely that which the Apostles themselves had while Christ
was yet upon earth."
In what respects does it differ from that of the Apostles during the life-
time of Christ on earth 1
It is " a recumbency upon Him as our atonement and our life, as
given/or us, and living in us," etc. — Sec. I. 5.
Is this an instructive and important distinction 1
What does Wesley describe saving faith to be 1
" A closing with Him and cleaving to Him," etc. — Sec. I. 5.
Is saving faith, then, an act only, or also a habit ?
It is first the one, and then the other. — Ibid.
. How does Wesley prove salvation to be present and perfect ?
See Sec. II. 1, 2.
What is his experimental exposition of the perseverance of the saints ?
" They are saved from the fear, though not from the possibility of
What is the special historical interest of this sermon 1
THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF FAITH.
" Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the
man which doeth those things shall live by them.
" But the righteousness which is of faith speaheth on this wise,
Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven ? (that
is, to bring Christ down from above:)
" Or, Who shall descend into the deep ? (that is, to bring up Christ
again from the dead.)
" But what saith it ? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth,
and in thy heart : that is, the word of faith, which we
preach." — Romans x. 5 — 8.
THE Apostle does not here oppose the covenant given by
Moses, to the covenant given by Christ. If we ever
imagined this, it was for want of observing, that the latter
as well as the former part of these words were spoken by
Moses himself to the people of Israel, and that concerning
the covenant which then was. (Deut. xxx. 11,12,14.) But
it is the covenant of grace, which God, through Christ, hath
established with men in all ages, (as well before and under
the Jewish dispensation, as since God was manifest in
the flesh,) which St. Paul here opposes to the covenant of
works, made with Adam while in paradise, but commonly
supposed to be the only covenant which God had made with
man, particularly by those Jews of whom the Apostle writes.
2. Of these it was that he so affectionately speaks in
the beginning of this chapter : " My heart's desire and
prayer to God for Israel is, that they may be saved. For
I bear them record, that they have a zeal for God, but
not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of
God's righteousness," (of the justification that flows from
His mere grace and mercy, freely forgiving our sins through
14 THE BIGHTEOUSNESS OF FAITH.
the Son of His love, through the redemption which is
in Jesus,) " and seeking to establish their own righteous-
ness," (their own holiness, antecedent to faith in " Him
that justifieth the ungodly," as the ground of their pardon
and acceptance,) " have not submitted themselves unto the
righteousness of God," and consequently, seek death in the
error of their life.
3. They were ignorant that " Christ is the end of the law
for righteousness to every one that believeth ; " — that, by the
oblation of Himself once offered, He had put an end to the
first law or covenant, (which, indeed, was not given by God
to Moses, but to Adam in his state of innocence,) the strict
tenor whereof, without any abatement, was, " Do this, and
live ; " and, at the same time, purchased for us that better
covenant, " Believe, and live ; " believe, and thou shalt be
saved ; now saved, both from the guilt and power of sin, and,
of consequence, from the wages of it.
4. And how many are equally ignorant now, even among
those who are called by the name of Christ ! How many
who have now " a zeal for God," yet have it not " according
to knowledge;" but are still seeking " to establish their own
righteousness," as the ground of their pardon and acceptance ;
and therefore vehemently refuse to " submit themselves unto
the righteousness of God ! " Surely my heart's desire, and
prayer to God for you, brethren, is, that ye may be saved;
And, in order to remove this grand stumbling- block out of your
way, I will endeavour to show, first, what the righteousness
is which is of the law ; and what " the righteousness which
is of faith ; " secondly, the folly of trusting in the righteous-
ness of the law, and the wisdom of submitting to that which
is of faith.
I. 1. And, first, " the righteousness which is of the law
saith, The man which doeth these things shall live bv them "1
Constantly and perfectly observe all these things to do them
and then thou shalt live for ever. This law, or covenant'
(usually called the covenant of works,) given by God to man
in paradise, required an obedience perfect in all its T>art«i
THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF FAITH. 15
entire and wanting nothing, as the condition of his eternal
continuance in the holiness and happiness wherein he was
2. It required that man should fulfil all righteousness, in-
ward and outward, negative and positive : that he should not
only abstain from every idle word, and avoid every evil work,
but should keep every affection, every desire, every thought,
in obedience to the will of God : that he should continue
holy as He which had created him was holy, both in heart,
and in all manner of conversation : that he should be pure in
heart, even as God is pure ; perfect as his Father in heaven
was perfect : that he should love the Lord his God with all
his heart, with all his soul, with all his mind, and with all his
strength ; that he should love every soul which God had
made, even as God had loved him : that by this universal
benevolence, he should dwell in God, (who is love,) and God
in him: that he should serve the Lord his God with all his
strength, and in all things singly aim at His glory.
3. These were the things which the righteousness of the
law required, that he who did them might live thereby. But
it farther required, that this entire obedience to God, this
inward and outward holiness, this conformity both of heart
and life to His will, should be perfect in degree. No abate-
ment, no allowance could possibly be made, for falling short
in any degree, as to any jot or tittle, either of the outward or
the inward law. If every commandment relating to outward
things was obeyed, yet that was not sufficient, unless every
one was obeyed with all the strength, in the highest mea-
sure, and most perfect manner. Nor did it answer the
demand of this covenant, to love God with every power and
faculty, unless He were loved with the full capacity of each,
with the whole possibility of the soul.
4. One thing more was indispensably required by the
righteousness of the law, namely, that this universal obed-
ience, this perfect holiness both of heart and life, should bo
perfectly uninterrupted also, should continue without any
intermission, from the moment wherein God created man,
and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, until the
16 THE KIGHTEOUSXESI? OF FAITH.
days of his trial should be ended, and he should be confirmed
in life everlasting.
5. The righteousness, then, which is of the law, speaketh
on this wise : " Thou, O man of God, stand fast in love, in
the image of God wherein thou art made. If thou wilt
remain in life, keep the commandments, which are nowwritten
in thy heart. Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart.
Love, as thyself, every soul that He hath made. Desire no-
thing but God. Aim at God in every thought, in every word
and work. Swerve not in one motion of body or soul, from
Him, thy mark, and the prize of thy high calling ; and let
all that is in thee praise His holy name, every power and
faculty of thy soul, in every kind, in every degree, and at
every moment of thine existence. ' This do, and thou shalt
live : ' thy light shall shine, thy love shall flam e, more and
more, till thou art received up into the house of God in the
heavens, to reign with Him for ever and ever."
6. " But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on
this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into
heaven ? that is, to bring down Christ from above ; " (as
though it were some impossible task which God required
thee previously to perform, in order to thine acceptance ;)
" or, Who shall descend into the deep ? that is, to bring up
Christ from the dead ; " (as though that were still remaining
to be done, for the sake of which thou wert to be accepted ;)
" but what saith it ? The word," according to the tenor of
which thou mayest now be accepted as an heir of life eternal,
"is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart : that is,
the word of faith, which we preach," — the new covenant
which God hath now established with sinful man through
7. By "the righteousness which is of faith" is meant,
that condition of justification (and, in consequence, of present
and final salvation, if we endure therein unto the end) which
was given by God to fallen man, through the merits and
mediation of His only-begotten Son. This was in part
revealed to Adam, soon after his fall ; being contained in
the original promise, made to him, and his seed, concerning
THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF FAITH. 17
the Seed of the woman, who should " bruise the serpent's
head." (Gen. iii. 15.) It was a little more clearly revealed
to Abraham, by the Angel of God from heaven, saying,
"By Myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, that in thy Seed
shall all the nations of the world be blessed." (Gen. xxii,
16, 18.) It was yet more fully made known to Moses, to
David, and to the Prophets that followed; and, through them,
to many of the people of God in their respective generations.
But still the bulk even of these were ignorant of it ; and
very few understood it clearly. Still " life and immortality "
were not so "brought to light " to the Jews of old, as they
are now unto us " by the Gospel."
8. Now this covenant saith not to sinful man, " Perform
unsmiling obedience, and live." If this were the term, he
would have no more benefit by all which Christ hath done
and suffered for him, than if he was required, in order to life,
to " ascend into heaven, and bring down Christ from above ; "
or to " descend into the deep," into the invisible world, and
"bring up Christ from the dead." It doth not require any
impossibility to be done : (although, to mere man, what it
requires would be impossible ; but not to man assisted by the
Spirit of God :) this were only to mock human weakness.
Indeed, strictly speaking, the covenant of grace doth not
require us to do anything at all, as absolutely and indispen-
sably necessary in order to our justification ; but only to
believe in Him who, for the sake of His Son, and the propitia-
tion which He hath made, " justifieth the ungodly thatworketh
not," and imputes His faith to him for righteousness. Even
so Abraham " believed in the Lord, and He counted it to him
for righteousness." (Gen. xv. 6.) " And he received the sign
of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of faith, — that he
might be the father of all them that believe, — that righteous-
ness might be imputed unto them also." (Rom. iv. 11.)
"Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it," i.e.,
faith, " was imputed to him ; but for us also, to whom it shall
be imputed," to whom faith shall be imputed for righteousness,
Bhall stand in the stead of perfect obedience, in order to our
acceptance with God, " if we believe on Him who raised up
18 THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF FAITH.
Jesus our L©rd from the dead ; who was delivered " to death
" for our offences, and was raised again for our justification : "
(Rom. iv. 23 — 25 :) for the assurance of the remission of our
sins, and of a second life to come, to them that believe.
9. What saith then the covenant of forgiveness, of un-
merited love, of pardoning mercy ? " Believe in the Lord Jesus
Christ, and thou shalt be saved." In the day thou belie vest,
thou shalt surely live. Thou shalt be restored to the favoui
of God ; and in His pleasure is life. Thou shalt be saved
from the curse, and from the wrath, of God. Thou shalt he
quickened from the death of sin into the life of righteousness.
And if thou endure to the end, believing in Jesus, thou shalt
never taste the second death ; but, having suffered with thy
Lord, shalt also live and reign with Him for ever and ever.
10. Now " this word is nigh thee." This condition of life
is plain, easy, always at hand. " It is in thy mouth, and in
thy heart," through the operation of the Spirit of God. The
moment " thou believest in thine heart " in Him whom God
" hath raised from the dead," and " confessest with thy mouth
the Lord Jesus," as thy Lord and thy God, " thou shalt be
saved" from condemnation, from the guilt and punishment of
thy former sins, and shalt have power to serve God in true
holiness all the remaining days of thy life.
11. What is the difference then between the "righteous-
ness which is of the law," and the " righteousness which is of
faith ? " between the first covenant, or the covenant of works,
and the second, the covenant of grace ? The essential, un-
changeable difference is this : the one supposes him to whom
it is given, to be already holy and happy, created in the image
and enjoying the favour of God; and prescribes the condition
whereon he may continue therein, in love and joy, life and
immortality : the other supposes him to whom it is 'given, to
be now unholy and unhappy, fallen short of the glorious
image of God, having the wrath of God abiding on him, and
hastening, through sin, whereby his soul is dead, to bodily
death, and death everlasting ; and to man in this state it pre-
scribes the condition whereon he may regain the pearl he has
lost, may recover the favour and image of God, may retrieve
THE KIGHTEOUSNESS OF FAITH. 19
the life of God in his soul, and be restored to the knowledge
and the love of God, which is the beginning of life eternal.
12. Again: the covenant of works, in order to man's con-
tinuance in the favour of God, in His knowledge and love, in
holiness and happiness, required of perfect man aperfect and
uninterrupted obedience to every point of the law of God.
Whereas, the covenant of grace, in order to man's recovery of
the favour and the life of God, requires only faith; living faith
in Him who, through God, justifies bim that obeyed not.
13. Yet, again: the covenant of works required of Adam,
and all his children, to pay the price themselves, in considera-
tion of which they were to receive all the future blessings of
God. But in the covenant of grace, seeing we have nothing
to pay, God " frankly forgives us all : " provided only, that we
believe in Him who hath paid the price for us ; who hath
given Himself a " propitiation for our sins, for the sins of
the whole world."
14. Thus the first covenant required what is now afar off
from all the children of men ; namely, unsinning obedience,
which is far from those who are " conceived and born in sin."
Whereas, the second requires what is nigh at hand ; as though
it should say, " Thou art sin ! God is love ! Thou by sin art
fallen short of the glory of God ; yet there is mercy with
Him. Bring then all thy sins to the pardoning God, and they
shall vanish away as a cloud. If thou wert not ungodly, there
would be no room for Him to justify thee as ungodly. But
now draw near, in full assurance of faith. He speaketh, and
it is done. Fear not, only believe ; for even the just God
justifieth all that believe in Jesus."
II. 1. These things considered, it would be easy to show
as I proposed to do in the second place, the folly of trusting
in the " righteousness which is of the law," and the wisdom of
submitting to the " righteousness which is of faith."
The folly of those who still trust in the " righteousness
which is of the law," the terms of which are, " Do this, and
live," may abundantly appear from hence : they set out
wrong ; their very first step is a fundamental mistake : for,
20 THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF PAITH.
before they*can ever think of claiming any blessing on the
terms of this covenant, they must suppose themselves to be
in his state with whom this covenant was made. But how
vain a supposition is this ; since it was made with Adam in a
state of innocence ! How weak, therefore, must that whole
building be, which stands on such a foundation ! And how
foolish are they who thus build on the sand ; who seem never
to have considered, that the covenant of works was not given
to man when he was " dead in trespasses and sin," but when
he was alive to God, when he knew no sin, but was holy as
God is holy ; who forget, that it was never designed for the
recovery of the favour and life of God once lost, but only for
the continuance and increase thereof, till it should be complete
in life everlasting.
a. Neither do they consider, who are thus seeking to
establish their " own righteousness, which is of the law,"
what manner of obedience or righteousness that is which
the law indispensably requires . It must be perfect and entire
in every point, or it answers not the demand of the law. But
which of you is able to perform such obedience ? or, conse-
quently, to live thereby ? "Who among you fulfils every jot
and tittle even of the outward commandments of God ? doing
nothing, great or small, which God forbids ? leaving nothing
undone which He enjoins ? speaking no idle word ? havdng
your conversation always " meet to minister grace to the
hearers ? " and " whether you eat or drink, or whatever you
do, doing all to the glory of God ? " And how much less are
you able to fulfil all the inward commandments of God ; those
which require, that every temper and motion of your soul
should be holiness unto the Lord ! Are you able to " love
God with all your heart ? " to love all mankind as your own
soul ? to " pray without ceasing ? in every thing to give
thanks ? " to have God always before you ? and to keep every
affection, desire, and thought, in obedience to His law ?
3. You.should farther consider, that the righteousness of
the law requires, not only the obeying every command of
God, negative and positive, internal and external, but likewi
m the perfect degree* In every instance whatever the vo'
THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF FAITH. 21
of the law is, " Thou shalt serve the Lord thy God with all
thy strength." It allows no abatement of any kind : it
excuses no defect : it condemns every coming short of the full
measure of obedience, and immediately pronounces a curse on
the offender : it regards only the invariable rules of justice,
and saith, " I know not to show mercy."
4. Who then can appear before such a Judge, who is
" extreme to mark what is done amiss ? " How weak are
they who desire to be tried at the bar where " no flesh living
can be justified ! " — none of the offspring of Adam. For,
suppose we did now keep every commandment with all our
strength; yet one single breach, which ever was, utterly
destroys our whole claim to life. If we have ever offended
in any one point, this righteousness is at an end. For the
law condemns all who do not perform uninterrupted as well
as perfect obedience. So that, according to the sentence of
this, for him who hath once sinned, in any degree, " there
remaineth only a fearful looking for of fiery indignation,
which shall devour the adversaries " of God.
5. Is it not then the very foolishness of folly, for fallen
man to seek life by this righteousness ? for man, who was
" shapen in wickedness, and in sin did his mother conceive
him ? " man, who is, by nature, all " earthly, sensual, devil-
ish;" altogether "corrupt and abominable;" in whom, till
ho find grace, " dwelleth no good thing ; " nay, who cannot
of himself think one good thought ; who is indeed all sin, a
mere lump of ungodliness, and who commits sin in every
breath he draws ; whose actual transgressions, in word and
deed, are more in number than the hairs of his head ? "What
stupidity, what senselessness, must it be for such an unclean,
guilty, helpless worm as this, to dream of seeking acceptance
by his own righteousness, of living by " the righteousness
which is of the law ! "
6. Now, whatsoever considerations prove the folly of
trusting in the " righteousness which of the law," prove
equally the wisdom of submitting to the " righteousness
which is of God by faith." This were easy to be shown with
regard to each of the preceding considerations. But, to
22 THE BIGHTEO0SNESS OF FAlTll.
wave this, the wisdom of the first step hereto, the disclaiming
oar own righteousness, plainly appears from, hence, that iti
acting according to truth, to the real nature of things. For
what is it more, than to acknowledge with our heart as wel
as lips, the true state wherein we are ? to acknowledge, tha
we bring with us into the world a corrupt, sinful nature
more corrupt, indeed, than we can easily conceive, or fini
words to express ? that hereby we are prone to all that i
evil, and averse from all that is good : that we are full o
pride, self-will, unruly passions, foolish desires, vile and in
ordinate affections ; lovers of the world, lovers of pleasur
more than lovers of God ? that our lives have been no bette
than our hearts, but many ways ungodly and unholy ; insc
much that our actual sins, both in word and deed, have bee:
as the stars of heaven for multitude ; that, on all thes
accounts, we are displeasing to Him who is of purer eye
than to behold iniquity, and deserve nothing from Him bu
indignation and wrath and death, the due wages of sin
that we cannot, by any of our righteousness, (for indeed n
have none at all,) nor by any of our works, (for they are a
the tree upon which they grow,) appease the wrath of Goc
or avert the punishment we have justly deserved ; yea, tha
if left to ourselves, we shall only wax worse and worse, sin
deeper and deeper into sin, offend God more and more, bot
with our evil works, and with the evil tempers of our earns
mind, till we fill up the measure of our iniquities, and brin
upon ourselves swift destruction ? And is not this the vei
state wherein by nature we are ? To acknowledge thi
then, both with our heart and lips, that is, to disclaim ox
own righteousness, " the righteousness which is of the law,
is to act according to the real nature of things and coi
sequently, is an instance of true wisdom.
7. The wisdom of submitting to " the righteousness 1
faith " appears farther, from this consideration that it
the righteousness of God : I mean here, it is that' method <
reconciliation with God which hath been chosen and estal
lished by God Himself, not only as He is the God
wisdom, but as He is the sovereign Lord of heaven and eart
THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OP FAITH. 23
and of eVery creature which He hath made. Now, as it is
not meet for man to say unto God, " What doest Thou ? " —
as none, who is not utterly void of understanding, will con-
tend with One that is mightier than he, with Him whose
kingdom ruleth over all : so it is true wisdom, it is a mark
of sound understanding, to acquiesce in whatever He hath
chosen ; to say in this, as in all things, "It is the Lord : let
Him do what seemeth Him good."
8. It may be farther considered, that it was of mere
grace, of free love, of undeserved mercy, that God hath
vouchsafed to sinful man any way of reconciliation with
Himself ; that we were not cut away from His hand, and
utterly blotted out of His remembrance. Therefore, what-
ever method He is pleased to appoint, of His tender mercy,
of His unmerited goodness, whereby His enemies, who have
so deeply revolted from Him, so long and obstinately rebelled
against Him, may still find favour in His sight, it is doubt-
less our wisdom to accept it with all thankfulness.
9. To mention but one consideration more. It is wisdom
to aim at the best end by the best means. Now the best end
which any creature can pursue is, happiness in God. And
the best end a fallen creature can pursue is, the recovery of
the favour and image of God. But the best, indeed the only
means under heaven given to a man, whereby he may regain
the favour of God, which is better than life itself, or the
image of God, which is the true life of the soul, is the sub-
mitting to the "righteousness which is of faith," the believ-
ing in the only -begotten Son of God.
III. 1. Whosoever therefore thou art, who desirest to be
forgiven and reconciled to the favour of God, do not say in
thy heart, " I must first do this ; I must first conquer every
sin ; break off every evil word and work, and do all good to
all men ; or, I must first go to church, receive the Lord's
supper, hear more sermons, and say more prayers." Alas,
my brother ! thou art clean gone out of the way. Thou art
still "ignorant of the righteousness of God," and art " seek-
ing to establish thy own righteousness," as the ground of thy
24 THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF FAITH.
reconciliation. Knowest thou not, that thou canst do nothing
but sin, till thou art reconciled to God ? Wherefore, then,
dost thou say, " I must do this and this first, and then I shall
believe ? " Nay, but first believe ! Believe in the -Lord Jesus
Christ, the propitiation for thy sins. Let this good founda-
tion first be laid, and then thou shalt do all things well.
2. Neither say in thy heart, " I cannot be accepted yet,
because I am not good enough." "Who is good enough, who ever
was, to merit acceptance at God's hands ? Was ever any
child of Adam good enough for this ? or will any till the con-
summation of all things ? And, as for thee, thou art not
good at all : there dwelleth in thee no good thing. And
thou never wilt be, till thou believe in Jesus. Rather thou
wilt find thyself worse and worse. But is there any need of
being worse, in order to be accepted? Art thou not bad
enough already ? Indeed thou art ; and that God knoweth.
And thou thyself canst not deny it. Then delay not. All
things are now ready. " Arise, and wash away thy sins."
The fountain is open. Now is the time to wash thee white
in the blood of the Lamb. Now He shall " purge " thee as
"with hyssop," and thou shalt "be clean:" He shall "wash"
thee, and thou shalt " be whiter than snow."
3. Do not say, "But I am not contrite enough: I am not
sensible enough of my sins." I know it. I would to God thou
wert more sensible of them, more contrite a thousand- fold than
thou art. But do not stay for this. It may be, God will
make thee so, not before thou believest, but by believing. It
may be, thou wilt not weep much, till thou lovest much
because thou hast had much forgiven. In the mean time
look unto Jesus. Behold, how He loveth thee ! What could
He have done more for thee which He hath not done ?
" Lamb of G-od, was ever pain,
Was ever love like Thine ? "
Look steadily upon Him, till He looks on thee, and breaks
thy hard heart. Then shall thy "head" be " waters " and
thy " eyes fountains of tears."
4. Nor yet do thou say, " I must do something more before
THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF FAITH. 25
I come to Christ." I grant, supposing thy Lord should delay
His coming, it were meet and right to wait for His appear-
ing, in doing, so far as thou hast power, whatsoever He hath
commanded thee. But there is no necessity for making such
a supposition. How knowest thou that He will delay ?
Perhaps . He will appear, as the dayspring from on high,
before the morning light. O do not set Him a time !
Expect Him every hour. Now He is nigh ! even at the
5. And to what end wouldest thou wait for more sincerity
before thy sins are blotted out ? To make thee more worthy
of the grace of God ? Alas, thou art still " establishing thy
own righteousness." He will have mercy, not because thou
art worthy of it, but because His compassions fail not ; not
because thou art righteous, but because Jesus Christ hath
atoned for thy sins.
Again : if there be anything good in sincerity, why dost
thou expect it before thou hast faith ? — seeing faith itself is
the only root of whatever is really good and holy.
Above all, how long wilt thou forget, that whatsoever thou
doest, or whatsoever thou hast, before thy sins are forgiven
thee, it avails nothing with God toward the procuring of thy
forgiveness ! yea, and that it must all be cast behind thy back,
trampled under foot, made no account of, or thou wilt never
find favour in God's sight ; because, until then, thou canst not
ask it as a mere sinner, guilty, lost, undone, having nothing to
plead, nothing to offer to God, but only the merits ^of His
well-beloved Son, "who loved thee, and gave Himself for thee!"
6. To conclude. Whosoever thou art, man, who hast
the sentence of death in thyself, who feelest thyself a con-
demned sinner, and hast the wrath of God abiding on thee :
unto thee saith the Lord, not, "Do this,"— perfectly obey all
My commands, — "and live;" but, "Believe in the Lord Jesus
Christ, and thou shalt be saved." " The word of faith is nigh
unto thee : " now, at this instant, in the present moment, and
in thy present state, sinner as thou art, just as thou art, be-
lieve the Gospel ; and "I will be merciful unto thy unright-
eousness, and thy iniquities will I remember no more."
26 THE BIGHTEOtJSNESS OF FAIffi.
How does Wesley show that under the Mosaic dispensation there was a
large element of grace ?
See Sec. I. 1.
How does he explain the words : " Who shall ascend," etc., and " Who
shall descend," etc. ?
See Sec. I. 6.
How does he demonstrate the folly of trusting in the righteousness of
the law ?
See Sec. II. 1,2,3,4,5.
How does he prove the wisdom of submitting to the righteousness of
See Sec. II. 6, 7.
What is the proper answer to the penitent's objection, " I am not con-
See Sec. III. 3.
What is the answer to " I fear I am not quite sincere " ?
See Sec. III. 5.
What advice should be given to a penitent in the event of the delay of a
sense of pardon 1
See Sec. III. 4.
Which of our hymns forms a striking and animated comment on this
text and application of this discourse I
THE WAY TO THE KINGDOM.
" The kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the
Gospel." Mark i. 15.
THESE words naturally lead us to consider, first, 'the
nature of true religion, here termed by our Lord, " the
kingdom of God," which, saith He, "is at hand;" and,
secondly, the way thereto, which He points out in those
words, "Repent ye, and believe the Gospel."
1. i. We are, first, to consider the nature of true religion,
here termed by our Lord, " the kingdom of God." The same
expression the great Apostle uses in his Epistle to the
Romans, where he likewise explains his Lord's words, saying,
" The kingdom of God is not meat and drink ; but righteous-
ness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." (Rom. xiv. 17.)
2. " The kingdom of God," or true religion, " is not meat
and drink." It is well known, that not only the unconverted
Jews, but great numbers of those who had received the faith
of Christ, were, notwithstanding, "zealous of the law," (Acts
xxi. 20,) even the ceremonial law of Moses. Whatsoever,
therefore, they found written therein, either concerning meat
and drink offerings, or the distinction between clean and
unclean meats, they not only observed themselves, but vehe-
mently pressed the same, even on those "among the Gentiles"
(or Heathens) " who were turned to God ; " yea, to such a
degree, that some of them taught, wheresoever they came
among them, " Except ye be circumcised, and keep the law,"
(the whole ritual law,) " ye cannot be saved." (Acts xv.
3. In opposition to these, the Apostle declares, both here
and in many other places, that true religion does not consist
28 THE WAT TO THE KINGDOM.
in meat and drink, or in any ritual observances ; nor, indeed,
in any outward thing whatever ; in anything exterior to the
heart ; the whole substance thereof lying in " righteousness,
peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost."
4. Not in any outward thing ; such as forms or ceremonies,
even of the most excellent kind. Supposing these to be evei
so decent and significant, ever so expressive of inward things :
supposing them ever so helpful, not only to the vulgar, whose
thought reaches little farther than their sight ; but even tc
men of understanding, men of stronger capacities, as doubt-
less they may sometimes be ; yea, supposing them, as in the
case of the Jews, to be appointed by God Himself ; yet ever
during the period of time wherein that appointment remains
in force, true religion does not principally consist therein; nay,
strictly speaking, not at all. How much more must this hold
concerning such rites and forms as are only of human ap-
pointment ! The religion of Christ rises infinitely higher, and
lies immensely deeper, than all these. These are good in
their place ; just so far as they are in fact subservient to true
religion. And it were superstition to object against them,
while they are applied only as occasional helps to human
weakness. But let no man carry them farther. Let no man
dream that they have any intrinsic worth ; or that religion
cannot subsist without them. This were to make them an
abomination to the Lord.
5. The nature of religion is so far from consisting in these.
in forms of worship, or rites and ceremonies, that it does not
properly eonsist in any outward actions, of what kind soever.
It is true, a man cannot have any religion who is guilty oi
vicious, immoral actions ; or who does to others what he
would not they should do unto him, if he were in the same
circumstances. And it is also true, that he can have no real
religion who " knows to do good, and doeth it not." Yet mav
a man both abstain from outward evil, and do good and still
have no religion. Yea, two persons may do the same outward
work ; suppose feeding the hungry, or clothing the naked •
and, in the mean time, one of these may be truly religious'
and the other have no religion at all : for the one may act
THE WAT TO THE KINGDOM. 29
from the love of God, and the other from the love of praise.
So manifest it is, that although true religion naturally leads
to every good word and work, yet the real nature thereof
lies deeper still, even in " the hidden man of the heart."
6. I say of the heart. For neither does religion consist in
orthodoxy, or right opinions ; which, although they are not
properly outward things, are not in the heart, but the under-
standing. A man may be orthodox in every point ; he may
not only espouse right opinions, but zealously defend them
against all opposers ; he may think justly concerning the
incarnation of our Lord, concerning the ever-blessed Trinity,
and every other doctrine contained in the oracles of God ; he
may assent to all the three Creeds, — that called the Apostles',
the Nicene, and the Athanasian ; and yet it is possible he may
have no religion at all, no more than a Jew, Turk, or Pagan.
He may be almost as orthodox — as the devil, (though indeed
not altogether ; for every man errs in something ; whereas
we cannot well conceive him to hold any erroneous opinion,)
and may, all the while, be as great a stranger as he to the
religion of the heart.
7. This alone is religion, truly so called : this alone is in
the sight of God of great price. The Apostle sums it all up
in three particulars, " righteousness, and peace, and joy in
the Holy Ghost." And, first, righteousness. We cannot be at
a loss concerning this, if we remember the words of our Lord,
describing the two grand branches thereof, on which " hang
all the Law and the Prophets : " " Thou shalt love the Lord
thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy mind, and
with all thy soul, and with all thy strength : this is the first
and great commandment ; " (Mark xii. 30 ;) the first and
great branch of Christian righteousness. Thou shalt delight
thyself in the Lord thy God ; thou shalt seek and find all
happiness in Him. He shall be " thy shield, and thy exceed-
ing great reward," in time and in eternity. All thy bones
shall say, " Whom have I in heaven but Thee ? And there is
none upon earth that I desire beside Thee." Thou shalt hear
tod fulfil His word, who saith, " My son, give Me thy heart."
And, having given Him thy heart, thy inmost soul, to reign
30 THE "WAT TO THE KINGDOM.
there without a rival, thou may est well cry out, in the fulness
of thy heart, " I will love Thee, Lord, my strength. The
Lord is my strong rock, and my defence ; my Saviour, my
God, and my might, in whom I will trust ; my buckler," the
horn also of my salvation, and my refuge."
8. And the second commandment is like unto this ; the
second great branch of Christian righteousness is closely and
inseparably connected therewith ; even, " Thou shalt love thy
neighbour as thyself." Thou shalt love, — Thou shalt embrace
with the most tender good- will, the most earnest and cordial
affection, the most inflamed desires of preventing or removing
all evil, and of procuring for him every possible good. Thy
neighbour, — that is, not only thy friend, thy kinsman, or thy
acquaintance ; not only the virtuous, the friendly, him that
loves thee, that prevents or returns thy kindness ; but every
child of man, every human creature, every soul which God
hath made ; not excepting him whom thou never hast seenin
the flesh, whom thou knowest not, either by face or name ;
not excepting him whom thou knowest to be evil and un-
thankful, him that still despitef ully uses and persecutes thee :
him thou shalt love as thyself ; with the same invariable
thirst after his happiness in every kind ; the same unwearied
care to screen him from whatever might grieve or hurt either-
his soul or body.
9. Now is not this love " the fulfilling of the law ? " the
sum of all Christian righteousness ? — of all inward righteous-
ness ; for it necessarily implies " bowels of mercies, humble-
ness of mind," (seeing " love is not puffed up,") " gentleness,;
meekness, longsuffering : " (for love " is not provoked ; " but
" believeth, hopeth, endureth all things : ") and of all outward
righteousness ; for " love worketh no evil to his neighbour,"
either by word or deed. It cannot willingly hurt or grieve
any one. And it is zealous of good works. Every lover of
mankind, as he hath opportunity, "doeth good unto all men "
being (without partiality, and without hypocrisy) " full of
mercy and good fruits."
10. But true religion, or a heart right toward God and
man, implies happiness as well as holiness. For it is not only
THE WAT TO THE KINGDOM. 31
" righteousness," but also " peace and joy in the Holy Ghost."
What peace ? " The peace of God," which God only can
give, and the world cannot take away ; the peace which
"passeth all understanding," all barely rational conception;
being a supernatural sensation, a divine taste, of "the powers
of the world to come ; " such as the natural man knoweth
not, how wise soever in the things of this world ; nor, indeed,
can he know it, in his present state, " because it is spiritually
discerned." It is a peace that banishes all doubt, all
painful uncertainty; the Spirit of God bearing witness with
the spirit of a Christian, that he is " a child of God." And
it banishes fear, all such fear as hath torment ; the fear of
the wrath of God ; the fear of hell ; the fear of the devil ;
and, in particular, the fear of death : he that hath the peace
of God, desiring, if it were the will of God, " to depart, and
to be with Christ."
1 1 . With this peace of God, wherever it is fixed in the
soul, there is also "joy in the Holy Ghost ; " joy wrought in
the heart by the Holy Ghost, by the ever-blessed Spirit of
God. He it is that worketh in us that calm, humble rejoic-
ing in God, through Christ Jesus, " by whom we have now
received the atonement," Kara\\ayr)v, the reconciliation with
God ; and that enables us boldly to confirm the truth of the
royal Psalmist's declaration, "Blessed is the man " (or rather,
happy) " whose unrighteousness is forgiven, and whose sin is
covered." He it is that inspires the Christian soul with
that even, solid joy, which arises from the testimony of the
Spirit that he is a child of God; and that gives him to
"rejoice with joy unspeakable, in hope of the glory of God;"
hope both of the glorious image of God, which is in part,
and shall be fully, "revealed in Him ; " and of that crown
of glory which fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for him.
12. This holiness and happiness, joined in one, are some-
times styled, in the inspired writings, " the kingdom of God,"
(as by our Lord in the text,) and sometimes, "the kingdom
of heaven." It is termed, "the kingdom of God," because
it is the immediate fruit of God's reigning in the soul. So
soon as ever He takes unto Himself His mighty power, and
32 THE WAT TO TH1 KINGDOM.
sets up Has throne in our hearts, they are instantly filled
with this " righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy
Ghost." It is called " the kingdom of heaven," because it
is (in a degree) heaven opened in the soul. For whosoever
they are that experience this, they can aver before angels
" Everlasting life is won,
Glory is on earth begun ; "
according to the constant tenor of Scripture, which every-
where bears record, God " hath given unto us eternal life,
and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son " (reign-
ing in his heart) " hath life," even life everlasting. (1 John
v. 11, 12.) For " this is life eternal, to know Thee the only
true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent." (John
xvii. 3.) And they to whom this is given may confidently
address God, though they were in the midst of a fiery fur-
" Thee, Lord, safe shielded by Thy power,
Thee, Son of God, Jehovah, we adore ;
In form of man descending to appear :
To Thee be ceaseless hallelujahs given,
Praise, as in heaven Thy throne, we offer here ;
For where Thy presence is display'd, is heaven."
13. And this "kingdom of God," or of heaven, "is at
hand." As these words were originally spoken, they im-
plied that " the time " was then fulfilled, God being " made
manifest in the flesh," when He would set up His kingdom
among men, and reign in the hearts of His people. And is
not the time now fulfilled ? For, " Lo ! " (saith He,) " I am
with you alway," you who preach remission of sins in My
name, " even unto the end of the world." (Matt, xxviii. 20.)
Wheresoever, therefore, the Gospel of Christ is preached,
this His "kingdom is nigh at hand." It i s not f ar f rom
every one of you. Te may this hour enter thereinto, if so
be ye hearken to His voice, " Repent ye , an d believe the
II. 1: This is the way: walk ye in it: And, first " re :
THE WAT TO THE KINGDOM. 33
pent ; " that is, know yourselves. This is the first repent-
ance, previous to faith ; even conviction, or self-knowledge.
Awake, then, thou that sleepest. Know thyself to be a
sinner, and what manner of sinner, thou art. Know that
corruption of thy inmost nature, whereby thou art very
far gone from original righteousness, whereby " the flesh
lusteth " always " contrary to the Spirit," through that
" carnal mind " which " is enmity against God," which " is
not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be."
Know that thou art corrupted in every power, in every
faculty of thy soul ; that thou art totally corrupted in every
one of these, all the foundations being out of course. The
eyes of thine understanding are darkened, so that they cannot
discern God, or the things of God. The clouds of ignorance
and error rest upon thee, and cover thee with the shadow of
death. Thou knowest nothing yet as thou oughtest to know,
neither God, nor the world, nor thyself. Thy will is no
longer the will of God, but is utterly perverse and distorted,
averse from all good, from all which God loves, and prone
to all evil, to every abomination which God hateth. Thy
affections are alienated from God, and scattered abroad over
all the earth. All thy passions, both thy desires and aversions,
thy joys and sorrows, thy hopes and fears, are out of frame,
are either undue in their degree, or placed on undue objects.
So that there is no soundness in thy soul ; but " from the
crown of the head, to the sole of the foot," (to use the strong
expression of the Prophet,) there are only "wounds, and
bruises, and putrefying sores."
a. Such is the inbred corruption of thy heart, of thy very
inmost nature. And what manner of branches canst thou
expect to grow from such an evil root ? Hence springs
unbelief; ever departing from the living God; saying, "Who
is the Lord, that I should serve Him ? Tush ! Thou God
carest not for it." Hence independence ; affecting to be like
the Most High. Hence pride, in all its forms ; teaching thee
to say, " I am rich, and increased in goods, and have need of
nothing." From this evil fountain flow forth the bitter
streams of vanity, thirst of praise, ambition, covetousness,
34 THE WAT TO THE KINGDOM.
the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of
life. From this arise anger, hatred, malice, revenge, envy,
jealousy, evil surmisings : from this, all the foolish and
hurtful lusts that now "pierce thee through with many
sorrows," and, if not timely prevented, will at length drown
thy soul in everlasting perdition.
3. And what fruits can grow on such branches as these ?
Only such as are bitter and evil continually. Of pride cometh
contention, vain boasting, seeking and receiving praise of men^
and so robbing God of that glory which He cannot give unto
another. Of the lust of the flesh, come gluttony or drunken-
ness, luxury or sensuality, fornication, uncleanness ; vari-
ously defiling that body which was designed for a temple of
the Holy Ghost : of unbelief, every evil word and work. But
the time would fail, shouldest thou reckon up all ; all the idle
words thou hast spoken, provoking the Most High, grieving
the Holy One of Israel ; all the evil works thou hast donej
either wholly evil in themselves, or, at least, not done to the
glory of God. For thy actual sins are more than thou art
able to express, more than the hairs of thy head. Who can
number the sands of the sea, or the drops of rain, or thy
4. And knowest thou not that "the wages of sin is
death ? " — death, not only temporal, but eternal. " The soul
that sinneth, it shall die; " for the mouth of the Lord hath
Spoken it. It shall die the second death. This is the sen-
tence, to "be punished" with never-ending death, "with
everlasting destruction from the presence of the . Lord, and
from the glory of His power." Knowest thou not that every
sinner evoxoe ian rrj yeevvrj tov 7rvpoe,not properly "is in danger
of hell-fire ; " that expression is far too weak ; but rather "is
under the sentence of hell-fire ; " doomed already, just drag-
ging to execution. Thou art guilty of everlasting death. It
is the just reward of thy inward and outward wickedness. It
is just that the sentence should now take place. Dost thoU
see, dost thou feel this ? Art thou thoroughly convinced
that thou deservest God's wrath,, and everlasting damnation?
Would God do thee no wrong, if He, now commajided the
THE WAT TO THE KINGDOM. 35
earth to open, and swallow thee up ? if thou wert now to
go down quick into the pit, into the fire that never shall be
quenched ? If God hath given thee truly to repent, thou hast
a deep sense that these things are so ; and that it is of His
mere mercy thou art not consumed, swept away from the face
of the earth.
5. And what wilt thou do to appease the wrath of God, to
atone for all thy sins, and to escape the punishment thou hast
so justly deserved ? Alas, thou canst do nothing ; nothing
that will in anywise make amends to God for one evil work,
or word, or thought. If thou couldest now do all things well,
if from this very hour till thy soul should return to God thou
couldest perform perfect, uninterrupted obedience, even this
would not atone for what is past. The not increasing thy
debt would not discharge it. It would still remain as great
as ever. Yea, the present and future obedience of all the men
upon earth, and all the angels in heaven, would never make
satisfaction to the justice of God for one single sin. How
vain, then, was the thought of atoning for thy own sins, by
anything thou couldest do ! It costeth far more to redeem
one soul, than all mankind is able to pay. So that were there
no other help for a guilty sinner, without doubt he must have
6. But suppose perfect obedience, for the time to come,
could atone for the sins that are past, this would profit thee
nothing ; for thou art not able to perform it ; no, not in any
one point. Begin now : make the trial. Shake off that out-
ward sin that so easily besetteth thee. Thou canst not. How
then wilt thou change thy life from all evil to all good ?
Indeed, it is impossible to be done, unless first thy heart be
changed. For, so long as the tree remains evil, it cannot
bring forth good fruit. But art thou able to change thy own
heart, from all sin to all holiness ? to quicken a soul that is
dead in sin, — dead to God, and alive only to the world ? No
more than thou art able to quicken a dead body, to raise to
life him that lieth in the grave. Yea, thou art not able to
quicken thy soul in any degree, no more than to give any
degree of life to the dead body. Thou canst do nothing, more
36 THE WAT TO THE KINGDOM.
or less, in* this matter ; thou art utterly without strength. To
be deeply sensible of this, how helpless thou art, as well as
how guilty and how sinful, — this is that "repentance not to be
repented of," which is the forerunner of the kingdom of God.
7. If to this lively conviction of thy inward and outward
sins, of thy utter guiltiness and helplessness, there be added
suitable affections, — sorrow of heart, for having despised thy
own mercies, — remorse, and self-condemnation, having thy
mouth stopped, — shame to lift up thine eyes to heaven, — fear
of the wrath of God abiding on thee, of His curse hanging
over thy head, and of the fiery indignation ready to devour
those who forget God, and obey not our Lord Jesus Christ,
— earnest desire to escape from that indignation, to cease
from evil, and learn to do well ; — then I say unto thee, in the
name of the Lord, " Thou art not far from the kingdom of
God." One step more, and thou shalt enter in. Thou dost
"repent." Now, "believe the Gospel."
8. The Gospel, (that is, good tidings, good news for guilty,
helpless sinners,) in the largest sense of the word, means, the
whole revelation made to men by Jesus Christ ; and some-
times the whole account of what our Lord did and suffered
while He tabernacled among men. The substance of all is,
" Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners ; " or,
" God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son,
to the end we might not perish, but have everlasting life ;" or,
" He was bruised for our trangressions, He was wounded for
our iniquities ; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him ;
and with His stripes we are healed."
9. Believe this, and the kingdom of God is thine. By faith
thou attainest the promise. " He pardoneth and absolveth all
that truly repent, and unfeignedly believe His holy Gospel."
As soon as ever God hath spoken to thy heart, " Be of good
cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee," His kingdom comes • thou
hast "righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost "
10 Only beware thou do not deceive thy own soul, with
regard to the nature of this faith. It is -not Q „ x.
* ji ■ j i , , ,, ' as some have
fondly conceived, a bare assent to the truth of the R'M f
the articles of our Creed, or of all that is contained in the Ola
THE WAT TO THE KINGDOM 37
and New Testament. The devils believe this, as well as I or
thou ! And yet they are devils still. But it is, over and
above this, a sure trust in the mercy of God, through Christ
Jesus. It is a confidence in a pardoning God. It is a divine
evidence or conviction that " God was in Christ, reconciling
the world to Himself, not imputing to them their " former
" trespasses ; " and in particular, that the Son of God hath
loved me, and given Himself for me ; and that I, even I, am
now reconciled to God by the blood of the cross.
ii. Dost thou thus believe ? Then the peace of God is
in thy heart, and sorrow and sighing flee away. Thou art no
longer in doubt of the love of God ; it is clear as the noon-day
sun. Thou criest out, " My song shall be always of the loving-
kindness of the Lord : with my mouth will I ever be telling
of Thy truth, from one generation to another." Thou art no
longer afraid of hell, or death, or him that had once the power
of death, the devil ; no, nor painfully afraid of God Himself ;
only thou hast a tender, filial fear of offending Him. Dost
thou believe ? Then thy " soul doth magnify the Lord," and
thy " spirit rejoiceth in God thy Saviour." Thou rejoicest
in that thou hast " redemption through His blood, even the
forgiveness of sins." Thou rejoicest in that " Spirit of
adoption," which crieth in thy heart, " Abba, Father ! "
Thou rejoicest in a " hope full of immortality ; " in reaching
forth unto the " mark for the prize of thy high calling ; " in
an earnest expectation of all the good things which God hath
prepared for them that love Him.
ia. Dost thou now believe ? Then " the love of God is "
now " shed abroad in thy heart." Thou lovest Him, because
He first loved us. And, because thou lovest God, thou lovest
thy brother also. And being filled with " love, peace, joy,"
thou art also filled with "long-suffering, gentleness, fidelity,
goodness, meekness, temperance," and all the other fruits of
the same Spirit ; in a word, with whatever dispositions are
holy, are heavenly, or divine. For while thou "beholdest
with open," uncovered " face " (the veil now being taken
away) "the glory of the Lord," His glorious love, and the
glorious image wherein thou wast created, thou art " changed
38 The way to the kingdom.
into the same image from glory to glory, by the Spirit of
13. This repentance, this faith, this peace, joy, love ; this
change from glory to glory, is what the wisdom of the world
has voted to be madness, mere enthusiasm, utter distraction.
But thou, O man of God, regard them not ; be thou : moved
by none of these things. Thou knowest in whom thou hast
believed. See that no man take thy crown. Whereunto thou
hast already attained, hold fast, and follow, till thou attain all
the great and precious promises. And thou who hast not yet
known Him, let not vain men make thee ashamed of the
Gospel of Christ. Be thou in nothing terrified by those who
speak evil of the things which they know not. God will soon
turn thy heaviness into joy. O let not thy hands hang down !
Yet a little longer, and He will take away thy fears, and give
thee the spirit of a sound mind. He is nigh "that justifieth :
who is He that condemneth ? It is Christ that died, yea
rather, that rose again, who is even now at the right hand of
God, making intercession " for thee.
Now cast thyself on the Lamb of God, with all thy sins,
how many soever they be; and "an entrance shall" now
" be ministered unto thee into the kingdom of our Lord and
Saviour Jesus Christ ! " ' '
In what does religion not consist 1
" In anything exterior to the heart." — Sec. I. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.
Then what is the real value of forms and ceremonies 1
" Supposing them to be ever so decent," etc. — Sec. I. 4.
Whom does Wesley mention as the paragon of unsaving orthodoxy
" He may be almost as orthodox as the devil," etc. Sec. I. 6.
What is it to " love thy neighbour as thyself " ?
"Thou shalt embrace with the most tender goodwill" etc —
Sec I. 8.
What does true religion imply besides holiness ?
" Happiness."— Sec 1.9.
THE FIRST FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT.
" There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in
Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, out after the
Spirit." Romans viii. 1.
BY " them which are in Christ Jesus," St. Paul evidently
means, those who truly believe in Him ; those who,
" being justified by faith, have peace with God through our
Lord Jesus Christ." They who thus believe do no longer
" walk after the flesh," no longer follow the motions of corrupt
nature, but " after the spirit ; " both their thoughts, words,
and works are under the direction of the blessed Spirit of
2. " There is therefore now no condemnation to " these.
There is no condemnation to them from God ; for He hath
justified them " freely by His grace through the redemption
that is in Jesus." He hath forgiven all their iniquities, and
blotted out all their sins. And there is no condemnation to
them from within ; for they " have received, not the spirit of
the world, but the Spirit which is of God ; that they might
know the things which are freely given to them of God ; "
(1 Cor. ii. 12 ;) which Spirit " beareth witness with their
spirits, that they are the children of God." And to this is
added the testimony of their conscience, " that in simplicity
and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the
grace of God, they have had their conversation in the world."
(2 Cor. i. 12.)
3. But because this scripture has been so frequently mis-
understood, and that in so dangerous a manner ; because such
multitudes of " unlearned and unstable men " (01 ayuafeie kcu
<J9»jpuToi, men untaught of God, and consequently unestab-
lished in the truth which is after godliness) have wrested it to
40 THE FIRST FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT.
their own destruction ; I propose to show, as clearly as I can,
first, who those are " which are in Christ Jesus," and " walk
not after the flesh, but after the Spirit ; " and, secondly, how
" there is no condemnation to " these. I shall conclude with
some practical inferences.
1. i. First, I am to show, who those are that " are in
Christ Jesus." And are they not those who believe in His
name ? those who are " found in Him, not having their own
righteousness, but the righteousness which is of God by
faith ? " These, " who have redemption through His blood,"
are properly said to be in Sim ; for they dwell in Christ, and
Christ in them. They are joined unto the Lord in one Spirit.
They are ingrafted into Him, as branches into the vine. They
are united, as members to their head, in a manner which
words cannot express, nor could it before enter into their
hearts to conceive.
2. Now " whosoever abideth in Him, sinneth not ; "
" walketh not after the flesh." The flesh, in the usual lan-
guage of St. Paul, signifies corrupt nature. In this sense
he uses the word, writing to the Galatians, " The works of
the flesh are manifest ; " (Gal. v. 19 ;) and a little before,
" "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust " (or
desire) " of the flesh." (Ver. 16.) To prove which, namely,
that those who " walk by the Spirit " do not " fulfil the lusts
of the flesh," he immediately adds, " For the flesh lusteth
against the Spirit, and the Spirit lusteth against the flesh ;
(for these are contrary to each other;) that ye may not do
the things which ye would." So the words are literally trans-
lated, (tva fir) a ay fleXijre, Tavra iroirjre,) not, " So that ye
cannot do the things that ye would ; " as if the flesh over-
came the Spirit : a translation which hath not only nothing
o do with the original text of the Apostle, but likewise
makes his whole argument nothing worth ; yea, asserts just
the reverse of what he is proving.
3. They who are of Christ, who abide in Him " have
crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts." They
abstain from all those works of the flesh ; from " adultery and
THE FIEST FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT. 41
fornication ; " from " uncleanness and lasciviousness ; " from
"idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance ; " from "emulations,
wrath, strife, sedition, heresies, envyings, murders, drunken-
ness, revellings ; " from every design, and word, and work,
to which the corruption of nature leads. Although they feel
the root of bitterness in themselves, yet are they endued
with power from on high to trample it continually under
foot, so that it cannot " spring up to trouble them ; " insomuch
that every fresh assault which they undergo, only gives them
fresh occasion of praise, of crying out, " Thanks be unto
God, who giveth us the victory through Jesus Christ our
4. They now " walk after the Spirit," both in their hearts
and lives. They are taught of Him to love God and their
neighbour, with a love which is as " a well of water, spring-
ing up into everlasting life." And by Him they are led into
eveiy holy desire, into every divine and heavenly temper,
till every thought which arises in their heart is holiness unto
5. They who " walk after the Spirit " are also led by Him
into all holiness of conversation. Their " speech is always
in grace, seasoned with salt ; " with the love and fear of God.
''No corrupt communication comes out of their mouth ; but
only that which is good ; " that which is " to the use of
edifying ; " which is ■" meet to minister grace to the hearers."
And herein likewise do they exercise themselves day and
night, to do only the things which please God ; in all their
outward behaviour to follow Him " who left us an example
that we might tread in His steps ; " in all their intercourse
with their neighbour, to walk in justice, mercy, and truth ;
and "whatsoever they do," in every circumstance of life, to
"do all to the glory of God."
6. These are they who indeed " walk after the Spirit."
Being filled with faith and with the Holy Ghost, they possess
in their hearts, and show forth in their lives, in the whole
course of their words and actions, the genuine fruits of the
Spirit of God, namely, " love, joy, peace, long-suffering,
gentleness, goodness, fidelity, meekness, temperance," and
42 THE FIRST FRUITS OP THE SPIRIT.
whatsoever else is lovely or praiseworthy. " They adorn in
all things the Gospel of God our Saviour;" and give full
proof to all mankind, that they are indeed actuated by the
same Spirit " which raised up Jesus from the dead."
II. i. I proposed to show, in the second place, how,
" there is no condemnation to them which are " thus "in
Christ Jesus," and thus " walk not after the flesh, but after
And, first, to believers in Christ, walking thus, " there ig
no condemnation " on account of their past sins. God con-
demneth them not for any of these : they are as though they
had never been ; they are cast " as a stone into the depth of
the sea," and he remembereth them no more. God, having
" set forth His Son to be a propitiation " for them " through
faith in His blood," hath declared unto them " His righteous-
ness for the remission of the sins that are past." He layeth
therefore none of these to their charge ; their memorial is
perished with them.
2. And there is no condemnation in their own breast; no
sense of guilt, or dread of the wrath of God. They " have
the witness in themselves : " they are conscious of their in-
terest in the blood of sprinkling. " They have not received
again the spirit of bondage unto fear," unto doubt and
racking uncertainty ; but they " have received the Spirit of
adoption," crying in their heart, "Abba, Father." Thus,
being "justified by faith," they have the peace of God ruling
in their hearts ; flowing from a continual sense of His par-
doning mercy, and " the answer of a good conscience toward
3. If it be said, " But sometimes a believer in Christ may
lose his sight of the mercy of God ; sometimes such darkness
may fall upon him that he no longer sees Him that is in-
visible, no longer feels that witness in himself of his part in
the atoning blood ; and then he is inwardly condemned he
hath again 'the sentence of death in himself:'" I answer
supposing it so to be, supposing him not to see the mercy of
God, then he is not a believer : for faith implies light • the
THE FIRST FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT. 43
light of God shining upon the soul. So far, therefore, as any-
one loses this light, he, for the time, loses his faith. And, no
doubt, a true believer in Christ may lose the light of faith ;
and so far as this is lost, he may, for a time, fall again into
condemnation. But this is not the case of them who now
"are in Christ Jesus," who now believe in His name. For so
long a.s they believe, and walk after the Spirit, neither God
condemns them, nor their own heart.
4. They are not condemned, secondly, for any present sins,
for now transgressing the commandments of God. For they
do not transgress them : they do not " walk after the flesh,
but after the Spirit." This is the continual proof of their
"love of God, that they keep His commandments ; " even as
St. John bears witness, " Whosoever is born of God doth not
commit sin. For His seed remaineth in him, and he cannot
sin, because he is born of God : " he cannot, so long as that
seed of God, that loving, holy faith remaineth in him. So
long as " he keepeth himself " herein, " that wicked one
toucheth him not." Now it is evident, he is not condemned
for the sins which he doth not commit at all. They, there-
fore, who are thus " led by the Spirit are not under the law : "
(Gal. v. 18 :) not under the curse or condemnation of it ; for
it condemns none but those who break it. Thus, that law of
God, " Thou shalt not steal," condemns none but those who
do steal. Thus, " Remember the Sabbath-day to keep it
holy," condemns those only who do not keep it holy. But
against the fruits of the Spirit " there is no law ; " (ver.
-3;) as the Apostle more largely declares in those memorable
words of his former Epistle to Timothy : " We know that
the law is good, if a man use it lawfully ; knowing this," (if,
while he uses the law of God, in order either to convince or
direct, he know and remember this,) on litraliD vofioQ ov Kelrai,
(not " that the law is not made for a righteous man,"
but) "that the law does - not lie against a righteous man : "
it has no force against him, no power to condemn him ; " but
against the lawless and disobedient, against the ungodly and
sinners, against the unholy and profane ; according to the
glorious Gospel of the blessed God." (1 Tim. i. 8, 9, 11.)
44 THE FIKST FRUITS OF THE SPIEIT.
5. They are not condemned, thirdly, for inward sin, even
though it does now remain. That the corruption of nature
does still remain, even in those who ase the children of God
by faith ; that they have in them the seeds of pride and vanity,
of anger, lust, and evil desire, yea, sin of every kind ; is too
plain to be denied, being matter of daily experience. And on
this account it is, that St. Paul, speaking to those whom he
had just before witnessed to be " in Christ Jesus," (1 Cor. i.
2, 9,) to have been " called of God into the fellowship " (or
participation) " of His Son Jesus Christ ; " yet declares,
" Brethren, I could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but
as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ : " (1 Cor. iii. 1 :)
"babes in Christ; " so we see they were "in Christ; " they
were believers in a low degree. And yet how much of sin
remained in them ! of that " carnal mind, which is not sub-
ject to the law of God ! "
6. And yet, for all this, they are not condemned. Although
they feel the flesh, the evil nature, in them ; although they
are more sensible, day by day, that their " heart is deceitful
and desperately wicked; " yet, so long as they do not yield
thereto ; so long as they give no place to the devil ; so long
as they maintain a continual war with all sin, with pride,
anger, desire, so that the flesh hath not dominion over them,
but they still " walk after the Spirit ; " " there is no condem-
nation to them which are in Christ Jesus." God is well-
pleased with their sincere, though imperfect obedience ; and
they " have confidence toward God," knowing they are His,
" by the Spirit which He hath given " them. (1 John iii 24.)
7. Nay, fourthly, although they are continually convinced
of sin cleaving to all they do ; although they are conscious
of not fulfilling the perfect law, either in their thoughts, or
words, or works ; although they know they do not love the
Lord their God with all their heart, and mind, and soul and
strength ; although they feel more or less of pride or self-
will, stealing in and mixing with their best duties ; although
even in their more immediate intercourse with God when
they assemble themselves with the great congregation and
when they pour out their souls in secret to Him who seeth all
THE FIRST FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT. 45
the thoughts and intents of the heart, they are continually
ashamed of their wandering thoughts, or of the deadness and
dulness of their affections ; yet there is no condemnation to
them still, either from God or from their own heart. The
consideration of these manifold defects only gives them a
deeper sense that they have always need of that blood of
sprinkling which speaks for them in the ears of God, and
that Advocate with the Father " who ever liveth to make
intercession for them." So far are these from driving them
away from Him in whom they have believed, that they rather
drive them the closer to Him whom they feel the want of
every moment. And, at the same time, the deeper sense
they have of this want, the more earnest desire do they feel,
and the more diligent they are, as they " have received the
Lord Jesus, so to walk in Him."
8. They are not condemned, fifthly, for sins of infirmity,
as they are usually called. Perhaps it were advisable rather
to call them infirmities, that we may not seem to give any
countenance to sin, or to extenuate it in any degree, by thus
coupling it with infirmity. But, (if we must retain so
ambiguous and dangerous an expression,) by sins of infirmity
I would mean, such involuntary failings as the saying a thing
we believe true, though, in fact, it prove to be false ; or, the
hurting our neighbour without knowing or designing it,
perhaps when we designed to do him good. Though these
are deviations from the holy, and acceptable, and perfect will
of God, yet they are not properly sins, nor do they bring any
guilt on the conscience of " them which are in Christ Jesus."
They separate not between God and them, neither intercept
the light of His countenance ; as being no ways inconsistent
with their general character of " walking not after the flesh,
but after the Spirit."
9. Lastly. " There is no condemnation " to them for
anything whatever which it is not in their power to help ;
whether it be of an inward or outward nature, and whether
it be doing something or leaving something undone. For
instance, the Lord's supper is to be administered ; but you do
not partake thereof. Why do you not r* You are confined
46 THE FIRST FRUITS OP THE SPIRIT!
by sickness ; therefore you cannot help omitting it; and for
the same reason you are not condemned. There is no guilt,
because there is no choice. As there " is a willing mind; it is
accepted according to that a man hath, not according to that
he hath not."
10. A believer, indeed, may sometimes be grieved, because
he cannot do what his soul longs for. He may cry out, when
he is detained from worshipping God in the great congrega-
tion, " Like as the hart panteth after the water brooks, so
panteth my soul after Thee, O God. My soul is athirst for
God, yea, even for the living God : when shall I come to
appear in the presence of God ? " He may earnestly desire
(only still saying in his heart, " Not as I will, but as Thou
wilt ") to " go again with the multitude, and bring them forth
into the house of God." But still, if he cannot go, he feels
no condemnation, no guilt, no sense of God's displeasure ; but
can cheerfully yield up those desires with, " my soul, put
thy trust in God ! for I will yet give Him thanks, who is the
help of my countenance and my God."
11. It is more difficult to determine concerning those
which are usually styled sins of surprise ; as when one who
commonly in patience possesses his soul, on a sudden and
violent temptation, speaks or acts in a manner not consisted
with the royal law, " Thou shalt love thy neighbour as
thyself." Perhaps it is not easy to fix a general rule con
cerning transgressions of this nature. We cannot say, eithe;
that men are, or that they are not, condemned for sins o
surprise in general : but it seems, whenever a believeris b;
surprise overtaken in a fault, there is more or less condem
nation, as there is more or less concurrence of his will. 1
proportion as a sinful desire, or word, or action is more o
less voluntary, so we may conceive God is more or less dig
pleased, and there is more or less guilt upon the soul.
j 2. But if so, then there may be some sins of surpris
which bring much guilt and condemnation. For in som
instances, our being surprised is owing to some wilful an
culpable neglect ; or, to a sleepiness of soul which might ha"?
been prevented, or shaken off before the temptation cam*
THE FIRST FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT. 47
L man may be previously warned either of God or man, that
rials and dangers are at hand ; and yet may say in his heart,
A little more slumber, a little more folding of the hands to
est." Now, if such an one afterwards fall, though unawares,
uto the snare which he might have avoided, — that he fell
'mawares is no excuse ; he might have foreseen and have
shunned the danger. The falling, even by surprise, in such
an instance as this, is, in effect, a wilful sin ; and, as such,
must expose the sinner to condemnation, both from God and
his own conscience.
13. On the other hand, there may be sudden assaults,
either from the world, or the god of this world, and frequently
from our own evil hearts, which we did not, and hardly
could, foresee. And by these even a believer, while weak in
faith, may possibly be borne down, suppose into a degree of
anger, or thinking evil of another, with scarce any concurrence
of his will. Now, in such a case, the jealous God would
undoubtedly show him that he had done foolishly. He would
be convinced of having swerved from the perfect law, from
the mind which was in Christ, and consequently, grieved with
a godly sorrow, and lovingly ashamed before God. Yet need
he not come into condemnation. God layeth not folly to his
charge, but hath compassion upon him, " even as a father
pitieth his own children." And his heart condemneth him
not : in the midst of that sorrow and shame he can still say,
" I will trust and not be afraid ; for the Lord Jehovah is my
strength and my song ; he also is become my salvation."
III. 1. It remains only to draw some practical inferences
from the preceding considerations.
And, first, if there be " no condemnation to them which
are in Christ Jesus," and "walk not after the flesh, but after
the Spirit," on account of their past sin ; then why art thou
fearful, thou of littlo faith ? Though thy sins were once
moro in number than the sand, what is that to thee, now
thou art in Christ Jesus V "Who shall lay anything to the
charge of God's elect Y It is God that justifieth: who is he
that condemneth ? " All the sins thou hast committed from
48 THE FIRST FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT.
thy youth* up, until the hour when thou wast " accepted in
the Beloved," are driven away as chaff, are gone, are lost,
swallowed up, remembered no more. Thou art now " born- of
the Spirit : " wilt thou be troubled or afraid of what is done
before thou wert born ? Away with thy fears ! Thou art
not called to fear, but to the " spirit of love and of a sound
mind." Know thy calling ! Rejoice in God thy Saviour, and
give thanks to God thy Father through Him.
2. "Wilt thou say, " But I have again committed sin, since
I had redemption through His blood ? And therefore it is,
that ' I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.' " It is
meet thou shouldest abhor thyself ; and it is God who hath
wrought thee to this self- same thing. But, dost thou now
believe ? Hath He again enabled thee to say, " I know that
my Redeemer liveth ; " " and the life which I now live, I live
by faith in the Son of God ? " Then that faith again cancels
all that is past, and there is no condemnation to thee. At
whatsoever time thou truly believest in the name of the Son
of God, all thy sins, antecedent to that hour, vanish away as
the morning dew. Now then, " stand thou fast in the liberty
wherewith Christ hath made thee free." He hath once more
made thee free from the power of sin, as well as from the guilt
and punishment of it. O " be not entangled again with the
yoke of bondage ! " — neither the vile, devilish bondage of sin,
of evil desires, evil tempei'S, or words, or works, the most
grievous yoke on this side hell ; nor the bondage of slavish,
tormenting fear, of guilt and self-condemnation.
3 . But secondly, do all they which abide " in Christ
Jesus, walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit ?" Then we
cannot but infer, that whosoever now committeth sin, hath
no part or lot in this matter. He is even now condemned by
his own heart. But, " if our heart condemn us," if our own
conscience beareth witness that we are guilty, undoubtedly
God doth ; for " He is greater than our heart, and knoweth all
things ; " so that we cannot deceive Him, if we can ourselves.
And think not to say, " I was justified once ; my sins were
once forgiven me : " I know not that ; neither will 1 dispute
whether they were or no. Perhaps at this distance of time,
THE FIRST FRUITS OP THE SPIRIT. 49
it is next to impossible to know, with any tolerable degree of
certainty, whether that was a true, genuine work of God, or
whether thou didst only deceive thy own soul. But this I
know, with the utmost degree of certainty, " he that com-
mitteth sin is of the devil." Therefore, thou art of thy father
the devil. It cannot be denied : for the works of thy father
thou doest. natter not thyself with vain hopes ! Say not
to thy soul, " Peace, peace ! " For there is no peace. Cry
aloud ! Cry unto God out of the deep ; if haply He may hear
thy voice. Come unto Him as at first, as wretched and poor,
as sinful, miserable, blind and naked! And beware thou
suffer thy soul to take no rest, till His pardoning love be again
revealed; till He "heal thy backslidings," and fill thee again
with the " faith that worketh by love."
4. Thirdly. Is there no condemnation to them which
" walk after the Spirit," by reason of inward sin still remain-
ing, so long as they do not give way thereto ; nor by reason
of sin cleaving to all they do ? Then fret not thyself because
of ungodliness, though it still remain in thy heart. Repine
not, because thou still comest short of the glorious image of
God ; nor yet because pride, self-will, or unbelief, cleave to all
thy words and works. And be not afraid to know all this
evil of thy heart, to know thyself as also thou art known.
Yea, desire of God, that thou mayest not think of thyself
more highly than thou oughtest to think. Let thy continual
" Show me, as my soul can bear,
The depth of inbred sin ;
All the unbelief declare,
The pride that lurks within."
But when He heareth thy prayer, and unveils thy heart ; when
He shows thee thoroughly what spirit thou art of ; then beware
that thy faith fail thee not, that thou suffer not thy shield to
be torn from thee. Be abased. Be humbled in the dust. See
thyself nothing, less than nothing, and vanity. But still, " let
not thy heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." Still hold
fast, " I, even I, have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus
Christ the righteous." " And as the heavens are higher than
50 THE FIRST FRUITS OP THE SPIRIT.-
the earth, so is His love higher than even my sins." Therefore
God is merciful to thee a sinner ! such a sinner as thou art I
God is love ; and Christ hath died ! Therefore the Father
Himself loveth thee ! Thou art His child ! Therefore He will
withhold from thee no manner of thing that is good. Is it
good, that the whole body of sin, which is now crucified in
thee, should be destroyed ? It shall be done ! Thou shalt be
" cleansed from all filthiness both of flesh and spirit." Is it
good, that nothing should remain in thy heart but the pure
love of God alone ? Be of good cheer ! " Thou shalt love
the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and mind, and soul, and
strength." " Faithful is He that hath promised, who also will
do it." It is thy part, patiently to continue in the work of
faith, and in the labour of love ; and in cheerful peace, in
humble confidence, with calm and resigned and yet earnest
expectation, to wait till the zeal of the Lord of hosts shall
5. Fourthly. If they that " are in Christ," and "walk
after the Spirit," are not condemned for sins of infirmity, as
neither for involuntary failings, nor for anything whatever
which they are not able to help ; then beware, O thou that
hast faith in His blood, that Satan herein gain no advantage
over thee. Thou are still foolish and weak, blind and igno-
rant ; more weak than any words can express ; more foolish
than it can yet enter into thy heart to conceive ; knowing
nothing yet as thou oughtest to know. Yet, let not all thy
weakness and folly, or any fruit thereof, which thou art noi
yet able to avoid, shake thy faith, thy filial trust in God, 01
disturb thy peace or joy in the Lord. The rule which some
give, as to wilful sins, and which, in that case, may perhaps
be dangerous, is undoubtedly wise and safe if it be appliec
only to the case of weakness and infirmities. Art thou fallen
O man of God ? Yet, do not lie there, fretting thyself anc
bemoaning thy weakness ; but meekly say, « Lord, I shall fal
thus every moment, unless thou uphold me with thy hand.'
And then arise ! Leap and walk ! Go on thy way ! " Bui
with patience the race that is set before thee."
6. Lastly. Since a believer need not come into condem
THE FIRST FRUITS OP THE SPIRIT. 51
lation, even though he be surprised into what his soul abhors ;
(suppose his being surprised is not owing to any carelessness
or wilful neglect of his own ;) if thou whobelievest art thus
overtaken in a fault, then grieve unto the Lord : it shall be
a precious balm. Pour out thy heart before Him, and show
Him of thy trouble ; and pray with all thy might to Him
who is " touched with the feeling of thy infirmities," that He
would establish, and strengthen, and settle thy soul, and
suffer thee to fall no more. But still He condemneth thee
not. Wherefore shouldest thou fear ? Thou hast no need of
any " fear that hath torment." Thou shalt love Him that
loveth thee, and it sufhceth : more love will bring more
strength. And, as soon as thou lovest Him with all thy
heart, thou shalt be "perfect and entire, lacking nothing.''
Wait in peace for that hour, when " the God of peace shall
sanctify thee wholly, so that thy whole spirit and soul and
body may be preserved blameless unto the coming of our
Lord Jesus Christ ! "
Are those i: who arc in Christ Jesus" condemned for the remains of sin
within them ?
" They arc not condemned." — Sec. II. 5.
IIow is this proved ?
" St. Paul, speaking," etc. Ibid.
Arc they merely not condemned ?
'■ God is nell pleased with their sincere though imperfect obedience."
—Sec II. G.
Cut is there no condemnation in their own consciences, if not in the mind
No. " Although they arc continually convinced of sin cleaving to
all they do," etc.— Sec. II. 7.
Is the phrase " sins of infirmity " safe and unexceptionable 1
It is " an ambiguous and dangerous expression."— Sec. II. 8.
What arc really " sins of surprise " ?
Those in which "more or less concurrence of the will," etc. (11) ; or
"some wilful and culpable neglect," or "a sleepiness of soul,
etc."— Src. II. 11, 12.
52 THE FIRST FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT.
What is Wesley's advice to those who are conscious of " inward sin stil
remaining, so long as they do not give way thereto " 1
" Fret not thyself because of ungodliness," etc.— Sec. III. 4.
What is the reply to those who express self -abhorrence 1
" It is meet thou shouldest abhor thyself," etc. -Sec. III. 2.
What is his advice to those who have fallen ?
" Yet, do not lie there," etc.— Sec. III. 5.
What is the process and what the progress of sanctification ?
'• More love will bring more strength," etc.— Sec. III. 6.
THE SPIRIT OF BONDAGE AND
" Ye have not received the spirit of bondage again unto fear ; but
ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry,
Abba, Father" Eomans viii. 15.
ST. Paul here speaks to those who are the children of
God by faith. " Ye," saith he, who are indeed His chil-
dren, have drank into His Spirit ; " ye have not received the
spirit of bondage again unto fear;" but, "because ye are
sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your
hearts." "Ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby
we cry, Abba, Father."
2. The spirit of bondage and fear is widely distant from
this loving Spirit of adoption : those who are influenced only
by slavish fear cannot be termed " the sons of G-od ; " yet
some of them may be styled His servants, and are " not far
from the kingdom of heaven."
3. But it is to be feared, the bulk of mankind, yea, of
what is called the Christian world, have not attained even
this ; but are still afar off, " neither is God in all their
thoughts." A few names may be found of those who love
God ; a few more there are that fear Him ; but the greater
part have neither the fear of God before their eyes, nor the
love of God in their hearts.
4. Perhaps most of you, who, by the mercy of God, now
partake of a better spirit, may remember the time when ye
were as they, when ye were under the same condemnation.
But at first ye knew it not, though ye were wallowing daily
in your sins and in your blood ; till, in due time, ye " re-
ceived the spirit of fear ;" (ye received, for this also is the
54 THE SPIRIT OP BONDAGE AND ADOPTION.
gift of God ;) and afterwards, fear vanished away, and the
Spirit of love filled your hearts.
5. One who is in the first state of mind, without fear or
love, is in Scripture termed a " natural man : " one who is
under the spirit of bondage and fear, is sometimes said to be
" under the law : " (although that expression more frequently
signifies one who is under the Jewish dispensation, or who
thinks himself obliged to observe all the rites and ceremonies
of the Jewish law :) but one who has exchanged the spirit
of fear for the Spirit of love is properly said to be " under
Now, because it highly imports us to know what spirit
we are of, I shall endeavour to point out distinctly, first, the
state of a "natural man;" secondly, that of one who Je
" under the law ; " and, thirdly, of one who is " undei
I. 1. And, first, the state of a natural man. This, the
Scripture represents as a state of sleep : the voice of God to
him is, " Awake thou that sleepest." For his soul is in" a
deep sleep : his spiritual senses are not awake : they discern
neither spiritual good nor evil. The eyes of his understand-
ing are closed ; they are sealed together, and see not. Clouds
and darkness continually rest upon them ; for he lies in the
valley of the shadow of death. . Hence, having no inlets for
the knowledge of spiritual things, all the avenues of his
soul being shut up, he is in gross, stupid ignorance of what-
ever he is most concerned to know. He is utterly ignorant
of God, knowing nothing concerning Him as he ought to
know. He is totally a stranger to the law of God, as to its
true, inward, spiritual meaning. He has no conceptibn^of
that evangelical holiness, without which no man shall see
the Lord; nor of the happiness which they only find whose
" life is hid with Christ in God."
2-. And, for this very reason, because he is fast asleep, he
is, in some sense, at rest. Because he is blind, he is also
secure : he saith,. ?' Tush, :there shall no harm happen unto
me.".,; The darkness which covers him on, every side, keeps
THE SPIRIT OP BONDAGE AND ADOPTION. 55
him in a kind of peace ; so far as peace can consist with the
-works of the devil, and with an earthly, devilish mind. He
sees not that he stands on the edge of the pit ; therefore he
fears it not. He cannot tremble at the danger he does not
know. He has not under-standing enough to fear. Why is it
that he is in no dread of God ? Because he is totally ignor-
ant of Him : if not saying in his heart, " There is no God ; "
or, that " He sitteth on the circle of the heavens, and hum-
bleth " not " Himself to behold the things which are done
on earth; " yet satisfying himself as well, to all Epicurean
intents and purposes, by saying, " God is merciful ; " con-
founding and swallowing up all at once in that unwieldy
idea of mercy all His holiness and essential hatred of sin ;
all His justice, wisdom, and truth. He is in no dread of the
vengeance denounced against those who obey not the blessed
law of God, because he understands it not. He imagines
the main point is, to do thus, to be outivardhj blameless ; and
sees not that it extends to every temper, desire, thought,
motion of the heart. Or he fancies that the obligation
hereto is ceased ; that Christ came to " destroy the Law and
the Prophets ; " to save His people in, not from, their sins ;
to bring them to heaven without holiness : — notwithstanding
His own words, " Not one jot or tittle of the law shall pass
away, till all things are f ulfilled ; " and, " Not every one that
saith unto Me, Lord, Lord ! shall enter into the kingdom of
heaven ; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is
3. He is secure, because he is utterly ignorant of himself.
Hence he talks of "repenting by and by;" lie docs not
indeed exactly know when, but some time or other before he
dies; taking it for granted, that this is quite in Lis own
power. For what should hinder his doing it, if he will ? If
he does but onco set a resolution, no fear but he will make it
4. But this ignorance never so strongly glares, as in those
who are termed men of learning. If a natural man be one
of these, he can talk at large of his rational faculties, of the
freedom of his will, and the absolute necessity of such free-
56 THE SPIRIT OF BONDAGE AND ADOPTION.
dom, in order to constitute man a moral agent. He reads/
and argues, and proves to a demonstration, that every man
may do as he will ; may dispose his own heart to evil or
good, as it seems best in his own eyes. Thus the god of this
world spreads a double veil of blindness over his heart, lest,
by any means, " the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ
should shine " upon it.
5. From the same ignorance of himself and God, there
may sometimes arise, in the natural man, a kind of joy, in
congratulating himself upon his own wisdom and goodness ;
and what the world calls joy, he may often possess. He may
have pleasure in various kinds ; either in gratifying the
desires of the flesh, or the desire of the eye, or the pride of
life ; particularly if he has large possessions ; if he enjoy an
affluent fortune ; then he may " clothe " himself " in purple
and fine linen, and fare sumptuously every day." And so
long as he thus doeth well unto himself, men will doubtless
speak good of him. They will say, " He is a happy man."
For, indeed, this is the sum of worldly happiness ; to dress,
and visit, and talk, and eat, and drink, and rise up to play.
6. It is not surprising, if one in such circumstances as
these, dosed with the opiates of flattery and sin, should
imagine, among his other waking dreams, that he walks in
great liberty. How easily may he persuade himself, that he
is at liberty from all vulgar errors, and from the prejudice of
education ; judging exactly right, and keeping clear of all
extremes. " I am free," may he say, "from all the enthusiasm
of weak and narrow souls ; from superstition, the disease of
fools and cowards, always righteous over much ; and from
higotry, continually incident to those who have not a free
and generous way of thinking." And too sure it is, that he
is altogether free from the "wisdom which cometh from
above," from holiness, from the religion of the heart, from
the whole mind which was in Christ.
7. For all this time he is the servant of sin. He commits
sin, more or less, day by day. Tet he is not troubled : he
" is in no bondage," as some speak ; he feels no condemna-
tion. He contents himself (even though he should profess to
THE SPIRIT OP BONDAGE AND ADOPTION. 57
believe that the Christian J&evelation is of God) with, "Man
is frail. We are all weak. Every man has his infirmity."
Perhaps he quotes Scripture: "Why, does not Solomon
gay __The righteous man falls into sin seven times a day ?
And, doubtless, they are all hypocrites or enthusiasts who
pretend to be better than their neighbours." If, at any
time, a serious thought fix upon him, he stifles it as soon as
possible, with, " Why should I fear, since God is merciful,
and Christ died for sinners ? " Thus, he remains a willing
servant of sin, content with the bondage of corruption ;
inwardly and outwardly unholy, and satisfied therewith ; not
only not conquering sin, but not striving to conquer, par-
ticularly that sin which doth so easily beset him.
8. Such is the state of every natural man ; whether he
be a gross, scandalous transgressor, or a more reputable and
decent sinner, having the form, though not the power, of
godliness. But how can such an one be convinced of sin ?
How is he brought to repent ? to be under the law ? to receive
the spirit of bondage unto fear ? This is the point which is
next to be considered.
II. i. By some awful providence, or by His word applied
with the demonstration of His Spirit, God touches the heart
of him that lay asleep in darkness and in the shadow of death.
He is^ terribly shaken out of his sleep, and awakes into a
consciousness of his danger. Perhaps in a moment, perhaps
by degrees, the eyes of his understanding are opened, and
now first (the veil being in part removed) discern the real
state he is in. Horrid light breaks in upon his soul ; such
light as may be conceived to gleam from the bottomless pit,
from the lowest deep, from a lake of fire burning with brim-
stone. He at last sees the loving, the merciful God is also
a consuming fire • " that He is a just God and a terrible, ren-
dering to every man according to his works, entering into
judgment with the ungodly for every idle word, yea, and for
the imaginations of the heart. He now clearly perceives, that
the great and holy God is " of purer eyes than to behold
iniquity;" that He is an avenger of every one who rebelleth
58 THE SPIRIT OF BONDAGE AND ADOPTION.
against Him, and repayeth the wicked to his face ; and
that " it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living
2. The inward, spiritual meaning of the law of God now
begins to glare upon him. He perceives " the commandment
is exceeding broad," and there is "nothing hid from the light
thereof.'' He is convinced, that every part of it relates, not
barely to outward sin or obedience, but to what passes in the
secret recesses of the soul, which no eye but God's can pene-
trate. If he now hears, " Thou shalt not kill," God speaks in
thunder, " He that hateth his brother is a murderer ; " " He
that saith unto his brother, Thou fool, is obnoxious to hell-fire."
If the law say, " Thou shalt not commit adultery," the voice
of the Lord sounds in his ears, " He that looketh on a woman
to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in
his heart." And thus, in every point, he feels the word of
God "quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edge dsword."
It "pierces even to the dividing asunder of his soul and
spirit, his joints and marrow." And so much the more,
because he is conscious to himself of having neglected so
great salvation ; of having " trodden under foot the Son of
God," who would have saved him from his sins, and " counted
the blood of the covenant an unholy," a common, unsanctify-
3. And as he knows, " all things are naked and open unto
the eyes of Him with whom we have to do," so he sees him-
self naked, stripped of all the fig-leaves which he had sewed
together, of all his poor pretences to religion or virtue, and
his wretched excuses for sinning against God. He now sees
himself like the ancient sacrifices, TErpa^nXia^Evov, cleft in
sunder, as it were, from the neck downward, so that all
within him stands confessed. His heart is bare, and he sees
it is all sin, ".deceitful above all things, desperately wicked;"
that it is altogether corrupt and abominable, more than it is
possible for tongue to express ; that there dwelleth therein
no good thing, but unrighteousness and ungodliness only ;
every motion thereof, every temper and thought, being only
THE SPIRIT OP BONDAGE AND ADOPTION. f>9
4. And he not only sees, but feels in himself, by an emotion
of soul which he cannot describe, that for the sins of his heart,
were his life without blame, (which yet it is not, and cannot
be ; seeing " an evil tree cannot bring forth good fruit,") he
deserves to be cast into the fire that never shall be quenched.
He feels that "the wages," the just reward, " of sin," of his
sin above all, " is death ; " even the second death ; the death
which dieth not ; the destruction of body and soul in hell.
5. Here ends hispleasing dream, his delusive rest, his false
peace, his vain security. His joy now vanishes as a cloud ;
pleasures, once loved, delight no more. They pall upon the
taste : he loathes the nauseous sweet ; he is weary to bear
them. The shadows of happiness flee away, and sink into
oblivion : so that he is stripped of all, and wanders to and
fro, seeking rest, but finding none.
6. The fumes of those opiates being now dispelled, he feels
the anguish of a wounded spirit. He finds that sin let loose
upon the soul (whether it be pride, anger, or evil desire,
whether self-will, malice, envy, revenge, or any other) is
perfect misery : he feels sorrow of heart for the blessings he
has lost, and the curse which is come upon him ; remorse for
having thus destroyed himself, and despised his own mercies ;
fear, from a lively sense of the wrath of God, and of the con-
sequences of His wrath , of the punishment which he has justly
deserved, and which he sees hanging over his head; — fear of
death, as being to him the gate of hell, the entrance of death
eternal ; — fear of the devil, the executioner of the wrath and
righteous vengeance of God ; — fear of men, who, if they were
able to kill his body, would thereby plunge both body and soul
into hell ; — fear, sometimes arising to such a height, that the
poor, sinful, guilty soul is terrified with everything, with
nothing, with shades, with a leaf shaken of the wind. Yea,
sometimes it may even border upon distraction, making a
man " drunken though not with wine," suspending the
exercise of the memory, of the understanding, of all the
natural faculties. Sometimes it may approach to the very
brink of despair ; so that he who trembles at the name of
death, may yet be ready to plunge into it every moment, to
60 THE SPIRIT OP BONDAGE AND ADOPTION.
" choose strangling rather than life." Well may such a man
roar, like him of old, for the very disquietness of his heart,
Well may he cry out, " The spirit of a man may sustain his
infirmities ; but a wounded spirit who can bear ? "
7. Now he truly desires to break loose from sin, and begins
to struggle with it. But though he strive with all his might,
he cannot conquer : sin is mightier than he. He would fain
escape ; but be is so fast in prison, that he cannot get forth.
He resolves against sin, but yet sins on : he sees the snare,
and abhors and runs into it. So much does his boasted
reason avail, — only to enhance his guilt, and increase his
misery ! Such is the freedom of his will ; free only to evil ;
free to " drink in iniquity like water ; " to wander farther and
farther from the living God, and do more " despite to the
Spirit of grace."
8. The more he strives, wishes, labours to be free, the more
does he feel bis chains, the grievous chains of sin, -wherewith
Satan binds and " leads him captive at his will ; " his servani
he is, though he repine ever so much ; though he rebel, hf
cannot prevail. He is still in bondage and fear, by reason 0:
sin : generally, of some outward sin, to which he is peculiarly
disposed, either by nature, custom, or outward circumstances
but always, of some inward sin, some evil temper or unhol;
affection. And the more he frets against it the more i
prevails ; he may bite, but cannot break his chain. Thus h
toils without end, repenting and sinning, and repenting an
sinning again, till at length the poor, sinful, helpless wretc'
is even at his wit's end, and can barely groan, " O wretche
man that I am ! who shall deliver me from the body of thi
death ? "
9. This whole struggle of one who is " under the law.
under the " spirit of fear and bondage," is beautifully d<
scribed by the Apostle in the foregoing chapter, speaking i
the person of an awakened man. " I," sa ith he, " was alrv
without the law once : " (verse 9 :) I had much life, wi
dom, strength, and virtue ; so I thought : " but when tl
commandment came, sin revived, and I died : " when tl
commandment, in its spiritual meaning, came to my hear
THE SPIRIT OF BONDAGE AND ADOPTION. 61
with the power of God, my inbred sin was stirred up, fretted,
inflamed, and all my virtue died away. " And the command-
ment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death.
For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me,
and by it slew me : " (verses 10, 11 :) it came upon me un-
awares ; slew all my hopes ; and plainly showed, in the midst
of life I was in death. " Wherefore the law is holy, and the
commandment holy, and just, and good : " (verse 12 :) I no
longer lay the blame on this, but on the corruption of my own
heart. I acknowledge that " the law is spiritual ; but I am
carnal, sold under sin : " (verse 14 :) I now see both the
spiritual nature of the law ; and my own carnal, devilish
heart " sold under sin," totally enslaved : (like slaves bought
with money, who were absolutely at their master's disposal :)
" for that which I do, I allow not ; for what I would, I do
not; but what I hate, that I do : " (verse 15 :) such is the
bondage under which I groan ; such the tyranny of my hard
master. " To will is present with me ; but how to perform
that which is good I find not. For the good that I would,
I do not ; but the evil which I would not, that I do : " (verses
18, 19 :) " I find a law," an inward constraining power, " that,
■when 1 would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight
in," or consent to, " the law of God, after the inward man : "
(verses 21, 22 :) in my " mind : " (so the Apostle explains
himself in the words that immediately follow ; and so 6 to-w
&vdp<i>irue, tin 1 inward man, is understood in all other Greek
writers :) " but I see another law in my members," another
constraining power, " warring against the law of my mind," or
inward man, " and bringing me into captivity to the law " or
power " of sin : " (verse 23 :) dragging me, as it were, at my
conqueror's chariot wheels, into the very thing which my soul
abhors. " wretched man that I am ! who shall deliver me
from the body of this death ? " (verse 24.) Who shall deliver
me from this helpless, dying life, from this bondage of sin and
misery ? Till this is done, " I myself " (or rather, that I
abroQ eyw. that man I am now personating) " with the mind,"
or inward man, " serve the law of God ; " my mind, my con-
Science is on God's side : " but with my flesh," with my body
62 THE SPIRIT OF BONDAGE AND ADOPTION,
" the L>w of sin," (verse 25,) being hurried away by a iorce
I cannot resist.
j o. How lively a portraiture is this of one " under- the
law ! " one who feels the burden he cannot shake off ^ who
pants after liberty, power, and love, but is in fear and bondage
still ! until the time that God answers the wretched man,
crying out, "Who shall deliver me" from this bondage of
sin, from this body of death ? — " The grace of God through
Jesus Christ thy Lord."
III. i. Then it is that this miserable bondage ends, and
he is no more " under the law, but under grace;" This state
we are, thirdly, to consider ; the state of one who has found
grace or favour in the sight of God, even the Father, and who
has the grace or power of the Holy Ghost reigning in his
heart ; who has received, in the language of the Apostle,
the "Spirit of adoption, whereby" he now cries, "Abba,
2. " He cried unto the Lord in his trouble, and God
delivers him out of his distress." His eyes are opened in
quite another manner than before, even to see a loving,
gracious God. While he is calling, " I beseech Thee, show
me Thy glory ! " — he hears a voice in his inmost soul, " I will
make all My goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim
the name of the Lord : I will be gracious to whom I will-be
gracious, and I will show mercy to whom I will show mercy.'
And it is not long before " the Lord descends in the cloud
and proclaims the name of the Lord." Then he sees, bd
not with eyes of flesh and blood, " The Lord, the Lord God
merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in good
ness and truth ; keeping mercy for thousands, and forgiving
iniquities, and transgressions, and sin."
3. Heavenly, healing light now breaks in upon his soul
He " looks on Him whom he had pierced ; " and " God wh<
out of darkness commanded light to shine, shineth in hii
heart." He sees the light of the glorious love of God in the
face of Jesus Christ. He hath a divine " evidence of things
not seen" by sense,- even of " the deep tilings of Gorl ; " more
THE SPIRIT OF BONDAGE AND ADOPTION. 63
jarticukrly of the love of God, of His pardoning love to
lim that believes in Jesus. Overpowered with the sight, his
Whole soul cries out, " My Lord, and my God ! " For he
iees all his iniquities laid on Him who " bare them in His
own body on the tree : " he beholds the Lamb of God taking
away his sins. How clearly now does he discern, that " God
was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself ; making
Him sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made
the righteousness of God through Him; " — and that he him-
self is reconciled to God, by that blood of the covenant !
4. Here end both the guilt and power of sin. He can
now say, " I am crucified with Christ ; nevertheless I live ;
yet not I, but Christ liveth in me : and the life which I now
live in the flesh," (even in this mortal body,) " I live by
faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself
for me." Here end remorse, and sorrow of heart, and the
anguish of a wounded spirit. " God turneth his heaviness
into joy." He made sore, and now His hands bind up.
Here ends also that bondage unto fear; for "his heart
standeth fast, believing in the Lord." He cannot fear any
longer the wrath of God; for he knows it is now turned
away from him, and looks upon Him no more as an angry
Judge, but as a loving Father. He cannot fear the devil,
knowing he has "no power, except it be given him from
above." He fears not hell ; being an heir of the kingdom of
heaven: consequently, he has no fear of death; by reason
whereof he was in time past, for so many years, " subject to
bondage." Rather, knowing that " if the earthly house of
this tabernacle be dissolved, he hath a building of God, a
house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens ; he
groaneth earnestly, desiring to be clothed upon with that
house which is from heaven." He groans to shake off this
house of earth, that " mortality " may be " swallowed up of
life;" knowing that God " hath wrought him for the selfsame
thing ; who hath also given him the earnest of His Spirit."
5. And " where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty ; '
liberty, not only from guilt and fear, but from sin, from that
heaviest of all yokes, that basest of all bondage. His labour
64 THE SPIRIT OF BONDAGE AND ADOPTION.
is not tiow in vain. The snare is broken, and he is delivered*
He not only strives, but likewise prevails ; he not only fights,
but conquers also. "Henceforth he does not serve sin."
(Chap. vi. 6, &c.) He is " dead unto sin, and, alive unto
God ; " " sin doth not now reign," even " in his mortal body/'
nor doth he " obey it in the desires thereof." He does not
" yield his members as instruments of unrighteousness unto
sin, but as instruments of righteousness unto God." For
" being now made free from sin, he is become the servant of
6. Thus " having peace with God through our Lord Jesus
Christ," " rejoicing in hope of the glory of God," and having
power over all sin, over every evil desire, and temper, and
word, and work, he is a living witness of the " glorioui
liberty of the sons of God ; " all of whom, being partaken
of like precious faith, bear record with one voice, " We hav<
received the Spirit of adoption, whereby We cry, Abba
Father ! "
7. It is this Spirit which continually " worketh in them
both to will and to do of His good pleasure. It is He tha
sheds the love of God abroad in their hearts, and the love
all mankind ; thereby purifying their hearts from the love
the world, from the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, am
the pride of life. It is by Him they are delivered from ange
and pride, from all vile and inordinate affections. In con
sequence, they are delivered from evil words and works, froi
all unholiness of conversation ; doing no evil to any child c
man, and being zealous of all good works.
8. To sum up all : the natural man neither fears nor love
God, one under the law, fears, — one under grace, loves Hin
The first has no light in the things of God, but walks i
utter darkness ; the second sees the painful light of hell
the third, the joyous light of heaven. He that sleeps i
death, has a false peace ; he that is awakened, has no peace £
all ; he that believes, has true peace, — the peace of God fillin
and ruling his heart. The Heathen, baptized or unbaptizei
hath a fancied liberty, which is indeed licentiousness • tl
Jew, or one under the Jewish dispensation, is in heav 1
THE SPIKIT OF BONDAGE AND ADOPTION. 65
grievous bondage ; the Christian enjoys the true glorious
liberty of the sons of God. An unawakened child of the devil
sins willingly ; one that is awakened sins unwillingly ; a
child of God " sinneth not," but " keepeth himself, and the
wicked one toucheth him not." To conclude : the natural
man neither conquers nor fights ; the man under the law
fights with sin, but cannot conquer; the man under grace
fights and conquers, yea, is " more than conqueror through
Him that loveth him."
IV r. JFrom this plain account of the threefold state of
man, the natural, the legal, and the evangelical, it appears
that it is not sufficient to divide mankind into sincere and
insincere. A man may be sincere in any of these states ; not
only when he has the " Spirit of adoption," but while he has
the " spirit of bondage unto fear ; " yea, while he has neither
this fear, nor love. For undoubtedly there may be sincere
Heathens, as well as sincere Jews or Christians. This
circumstance, then, does by no means prove that a man is
in a state of acceptance with God.
" Examine yourselves, therefore," not only whether ye are
sincere, but " whether ye be in the faith." Examine narrowly,
(for it imports you much,) what is the ruling principle in
your soul ? Is it the love of God ? Is it the fear of God ?
Or is it neither one nor the other ? Is it not rather the love
of the world ? the love of pleasure, or gain ? of ease, or
reputation ? If so, you are not come so far as a Jew. You
are but a Heathen still. Have you heaven in your heart ?
Have you the Spirit of adoption, ever crying, Abba, Father?
Or do you cry unto God, as "out of the belly of hell,"
overwhelmed with sorrow and fear ? Or are you a stranger
to this whole affair, and cannot imagine what I mean ?
Heathen, pull off the mask ! Thou hast never put on Christ !
Stand barefaced ! Look up to heaven ; and own before Him
that liveth for ever and ever, thou hast no part either among
the sons or servants of God !
Whosoever thou art, Dost thou commit sin, or dost thou
not ? If thou dost, is it willingly or unwillingly ? In either
66 THE SPIRIT OF BONDAGE AND ADOPTION.
case, Crod hath told thee whose thou art : " He that com-
mitteth sin is of the devil." If thou committest it willingly,
that art his faithful servant : he will not fail to reward. thy
labour. If unwillingly, still thou art his servant. God
deliver thee out of his hands !
Art thou daily fighting against all sin ? and daily more
than conqueror ? I acknowledge thee for a child of God.
O stand fast in thy glorious liberty ! Art thou fighting, but
not conquering? striving for the mastery, but not able to
attain? Then thou art not yet a believer in Christ; but
follow on, and thou shalt know the Lord. Art thou not
fighting at all, but leading an easy, indolent, fashionable life?
O how hast thou dared to name the name of Christ, only
to make it a reproach among the Heathen ? Awake, thou
sleeper ! Call upon thy God, before the deep swallow thee
i. Perhaps one reason why so many think of themselves
more highly than they ought to think, why they do not
discern what state they are in, is, because these several states
of soul are often mingled together, and in some measure meet
in one and the same person. Thus experience shows, that
the legal state, or state of fear, is frequently mixed with the
natural ; for few men are so fast asleep in sin, but they are
sometimes more or less awakened. As the Spirit of God
does not " wait for the call of man," so, at some times he
will be heard. He puts them in fear, so that, for a season
at least, the Heathen " know themselves to be but men."
They feel the burden of sin, and earnestly desire. to flee from
the wrath to come. But not long : they seldom suffer the
arrows of conviction to go deep into their souls ; but quickly
stifle the grace of God, and return to their wallowing hi
In like manner, the evangelical state, or state of love, is
frequently mixed with the legal. For few of those who have
the spirit of bondage and fear remain always without hope.
The wise and gracious God rarely suffers this • " for He
remembereth that we are but dust ; " and He willeth not that
" the flesh should fail before Him, or the spirit which He hath
THE SPIRIT OP BONDAGE AND ADOPTION. 67
Bifide." Therefore at such times as He seeth good, He gives
a dawning of light unto them that sit in darkness. He
causes a part of His goodness to pass before them, and shows
He is a "God that heareth the prayer." They see the
promise, which is by faith in Christ Jesus, though it be yet
afar off; and hereby they are encouraged to "run with
patience the race which is set before them."
3. Another reason why many deceive themselves, is,
because they do not consider how far a man may go, and yet
be in a natural, or, at best, a legal state. A man may be of
a compassionate and a benevolent temper ; he may be affable,
courteous, generous, friendly ; he may have some degree of
meekness, patience, temperance, and of many other moral
virtues. He may feel many desires of shaking off all vice,
and of attaining higher degrees of virtue. He may abstain
from much evil ; perhaps from all that is grossly contrary to
justice, mercy, or truth. He may do much good, may feed
the hungry, clothe the naked, relieve the widow and father-
less. He may attend public worship, use prayer in private,
read many books of devotion ; and yet, for all this, he may
be a mere natural man, knowing neither himself nor God ;
equally a stranger to the spirit of fear and to that of love ;
having neither repented, nor believed the Gospel.
But suppose there were added to all this a deep conviction
of sin, with much fear of the wrath of God ; vehement desires
to cast off every sin, and to fulfil all righteousness ; frequent
rejoicing in hope, and touches of love often glancing upon
the soul ; yet neither dp these prove a man to be under grace,
to have true, living, Christian faith, unless the Spirit of
adoption abide in his heart, unless he can continually cry,
4. Beware, then, thou who art called by the name of
Christ, that thou come not short of the mark of thy high
calling. Beware thou rest not, either in a natural state, with
too many that are accounted good Christians ; or in a legal
Btate, wherein those who are highly esteemed of men are
generally content to live and die. Nay, but God hath pre-
pared better things for thee, if thou follow on till thou attain.
68 THE SPIRIT OF BONDAGE AND ADOPTION.
Thou art not called to fear and tremble, like devils ; but to
rejoice and love, like tbe angels of God. " Thou shalt love
the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul,
and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength." Thou
shalt "rejoice evermore;" thou shalt "pray without ceas-
ing; " thou shalt "in everything give thanks." Thou shalt
do the will of God on earth as it is done in heaven. O prove
thou " what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of
God!" Now present thyself " a living sacrifice, holy, ac-
ceptable to God ! " " Whereunto thou hast already attained,
hold fast," by " reaching forth unto those things which are
before ; " until " the God of peace make tbee perfect in every
good work, working in thee that which is well-pleasing in His
sight, through Jesus Christ : to whom be glory for ever and
ever ! Amen ! "
What three states does Wesley describe in this sermon ? and how does he
distinguish each from the others in the experience of individuals ?
See Sec. 5.
How does Wesley describe the perversion of the truth that " God is
merciful " ?
As the " confounding and swallowing up all at once in that unwieldy
idea of mercy all His holiness and essential hatred of sin ; all His
justice, wisdom and truth," etc.— Sec I. 2.
How does he describe the ignorance of "men of learning" 1
"But this ignorance never so strongly glares, as in those who are
termed men of learning," etc. — Sec I. 4.
How does he describe the awakening of a soul ?
"The inward, spiritual meaning of the law of God now begins to
glare upon him," etc.— Sec II. 2.
Wha l«* e eXPerienCe ° f an aWakCned Sinner as t0 ******* of Ms
" The more he strives," etc.— Sec II. 8.
How does he describe the advent of the Spirit of adoption?
"Heavenly, healing light now breaks in upon his soul," etc.-
THE SPIRIT OF BONDAGE AND ADOPTION. 69
What concluding classification does he give of the three states of soul !
" The natural man neither conquers, nor fights," etc. — SEC. III. 8
What two kinds of " Heathen " does he mention ?
"The Heathen, baptized or uiibaptized." — Sec. III. 8.
By what names does he still further characterize the three states of
" The natural, the legal, and the evangelical." — Sec. IV. 1.
Under what name does he appeal to unconverted Christians ?
" Heathen, pull off the mask 1 Thou hast never put on Christ," etc.
Sec. IV. 1.
May the three states, in any degree, co-exist in the same person 1
" These several states of soul are often mingled together," etc. —
Sec. IV. 2.
THE WITNESS OF THE SPIRIT.
" The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit; that we are the
children of God." — Romans viii. 16.
HOW many vain men, not understanding what they
spake, neither whereof they affirmed, have wrested
this scripture to the great loss, if not the destruction, of
their souls ! How many have mistaken the voice of their
own imagination for the witness of the Spirit of God, and
thence idly presumed they were the children of God, while
they were doing the works of the devil ! These are truly and
properly enthusiasts ; and, indeed, in the worst sense of the
word. But with what difficulty are they convinced thereof,
especially if they have drank deep into that spirit of error.
All endeavours to bring them to the knowledge of them-
selves, they will then account fighting against God; and that
vehemence and impetuosity of spirit, which they call " con-
tending earnestly for the faith," sets them so far above all
the usual methods of conviction, that we may well say,
" With men it is impossible."
2. Who then can be surprised, if many reasonable men,
seeing the dreadful effects of this delusion, and labouring to
keep at the utmost distance from it, should sometimes lean
toward another extreme ? — if they are not forward to believe
any who speak of having this witness, concerning which
others have so grievously erred ? — if they are almost ready
to set all down for enthusiasts who use the expressions which
have been so terribly abused ? — yea, if they should question
whether the witness or testimony here spoken of be the
privilege of ordinary Christians, and not, rather, one of those
THE WITNESS OP THE SPIRIT. 71
extraordinary gifts which they suppose belonged only to the
apostolic age ?
3. But is there any necessity laid npon us of running
either into one extreme or the other ? May we not steer a
middle course, — keep a sufficient distance from that spirit of
error and enthusiasm, without denying the gift of God, and
giving up the great privilege of His children ? Surely we
may. In order thereto, let us consider, in the presence and
fear of God —
I. What is this witness oe testimony of our spirit
WHAT IS THE TESTIMONY OP God's SPIRIT ; AND,
HOW DOES He " BEAR WITNESS WITH OUR SPIRIT
THAT WE ARE THE CHILDREN OP GOD ? "
II. HOW IS THIS JOINT TESTIMONY OP God's SPIRIT AND
OUR OWN, CLEARLY AND SOLIDLY DISTINGUISHED
PROM THE PRESUMPTION OP A NATURAL MIND, AND
FROM THE DELUSION OP THE DEYIL ?
I. i. Let us first consider, what is the witness or testimony
of our spirit. But here I cannot but desire all those who are
for swallowing up the testimony of the Spirit of God in the
rational testimony of our own spirit, to observe, that in this
text the Apostle is so far from speaking of the testimony of
our own spirit only, that it maybe questioned whether he speaks
of it at all, — whether he does not speak only of the testimony
of God's Spirit ? It does not appear but the original text may
be faily understood thus. The Apostle had just said, in the
preceding verse, " Te have received the Spirit of adoption,
whereby we cry, Abba, Father ; " and immediately subjoins,
Auro to Tlveifia (some copies read, to avro Hvevfia) ovfifiapTvpei
ru rvevfiari r\pmv ort eafitv re/cva Qeov ; which may be trans-
lated, " The same Spirit beareth witness to our spirit, that we
are the children of God." (The preposition avv only denot-
ing, that He witnesses this at the same time that He enables
as to cry, Abba, Father.) But I contend not ; seeing so
many other texts, with the experience of all real Christians,
Wfficiently evince, that there is in every believer, both the
72 THE WITNESS OF THE SPIRIT.
testimony of God's Spirit, and the testimony of his own, that
he is a child of God.
2. "With regard to the latter, the foundation thereof is laid
in those numerous texts of Scripture which describe the marks
of the children of God ; and that so plain, that he which run-
neth may read them. These are also collected together, and
placed in the strongest light, by many both ancient and
modern writers. If any need farther light, he may receive it
by attending on the ministry of God's word ; by meditating
thereon before God in secret ; and by conversing with those
who have the knowledge of His ways. And by the reason or
understanding that God has given him, which religion was
designed not to extinguish, but to perfect ; — according to that
of the Apostle, "Brethren, be not children in understanding:
in malice " or wickedness " be ye children ; but in under-
standing be ye men ; " (1 Cor. xiv. 20 ;) — every man applying
those scriptural marks to himself, may know whether he is a
child of God. Thus, if he know, first, " as many as are led
by the Spirit of God," into all holy tempers and actions, "they
are the sons of God ; " (for which he has the infallible assur-
ance of holy writ ;) secondly, I am thus " led by the Spirit
of God ; " he will easily conclude, — " Therefore I am a son
3. Agreeable to this are all those plain declarations of St.
John, in his First Epistle : " Hereby we do know that we
know Him, if we keep His commandments." (Chap. ii. 3.)
"Whoso keepeth His word, in him verily is the love of God
perfected : hereby know we that we are in Him ; " that we are
indeed the children of God. (Verse 5.) " If ye know that
He is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteous-
ness is born of Him." (Verse 29.) « We know that we have
passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren."
(Chap. iii. 14.) " Hereby we know that we are of the truth,
and shall assure our hearts before Him ; " (verse 19 ;) namely,
because we " love one another, not in word, neither in tongue
but in deed and in truth." " Hereby know we that we dwell
in Him, because He hath given us of His " loving " Spirit "
(Chap. iv. 13.) And, " Hereby we know that He abideth in
THE WITNESS OF THE SPIRIT. 73
ns, by the " obedient " Spirit which He bath given us."
(Chap. iii. 24)
4. It is highly probable there never were any children of
God, from the beginning of the world unto this day, who
were farther advanced in the grace of God, and the know-
ledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, than the Apostle John, at the
time when he wrote these words, and the fathers in Christ to
whom he wrote. Notwithstanding which, it is evident, both
the Apostle himself, and all those pillars in God's temple, were
very far from despising these marks of their being the children
of God ; and that they applied them to their own souls for the
confirmation of their faith. Yet all this is no other than
rational evidence, the witness of our spirit, our reason or
understanding. It all resolves into this : Those who have
these marks are children of God : but we have these marks :
therefore we are children of God.
5. But how does it appear, that we have these marks ?
This is a question which still remains. How does it appear,
that we do love God and our neighbour, and that we keep His
commandments ? Observe, that the meaning of the question
is, How does it appear to ourselves, not to others ? I would ask
him, then, that proposes this question, How does it appear to
you, that you are alive, and that you are now in ease, and not
in pain ? Are you not immediately conscious of it ? By tho
same immediate consciousness, you will know if your soul is
alive to God ; if you are saved from the pain of proud wrath,
and have the ease of a meek and quiet spirit. By the same
means you cannot but perceive if you love, rejoice, and
delight in God. By the same you must be directly assured
if you love your neighbour as yourself ; if you are kindly
affectioned to all mankind, and full of gentleness and long-
suffering. And with regard to the outward mark of tho
children of God, which is, according to St. John, the keeping
His commandments, you undoubtedly know in your own
breast, if, by the grace of God, it belongs to you. Your
conscience informs you from day to day, if you do not take
the name of God within your lips, unless with seriousness
and devotion, with reverence and godly fear ; if you remem-
74 THE WITNESS OP THE SPIRIT.
ber the Sabbath-day to keep it holy; if you honour yom)|
father and mother : if yon do to all as yon would they shouU
do unto you; if you possess yonr body in sanctifieation and
honour ; and if, whether you eat or drink, you are tempefaSi
therein, and do all to the glory of God.
6. Now this is properly the testimony of our own spirit ;
even the testimony of our own conscience, that God hath
given us to be holy of heart, and holy in outward conversation-;
It is a consciousness of our having received, in and by the
Spirit of adoption, the tempers mentioned in the word of God;
as belonging to His adopted children ; even a loving heart
toward God, and toward all mankind; hanging with ohild-liy
confidence on God our Father, desiring nothing but Him, ca&fc
ing all our care upon Him, and embracing every child of mai
with earnest, tender affection : — a consciousness, that we art
inwardly conformed, by the Spirit of God, to the image of Wk
Son, and that we walk before Him in justice, mercy, and truth
doing the things which are pleasing in His sight; v, » : : '
7. But what is that testimony of God's Spirit, which if
superadded to, and conjoined with, this ? How does H<
" bear witness with our spirit that we are the childreM 0:
God ? " It is hard to find words in the language of men -t<
explain " the deep things of God." Indeed, there are noni
that will adequately express what the children of God experi
' ence. r< But perhaps one might say, (desiring any who an
taught of God to correct, to soften, or strengthen the' ex-
pression,) the testimony of the Spirit is an inward impressSOTT
on the soul, whereby the Spirit of God directly witnesses^
my spirit; that I am a child of God; that Jesus Christ hath
loved me, and given Himself for me ; and that all my sins arK
blotted out, and I, even I, am reconciled to God.
o'. 8. That this testimony of the Spirit of God must needs,
in the very nature of things, be antecedent to the testimony
of our own spirit, may appear from this single consideration
We must be holy of heart, and holy in life, before we can be
conscious that we are so ; before we can have the testimony r o#
our spirit, that we are inwardly and outwardly holy. But
we must love God, before we can be holy at all ; this being the
'.THE WITNESS OF THE SPIRIT. 75
toot of all holiness. Now we cannot love God, till we know
Ho loves us. "We love Him, because He first, loved us/'.
And we cannot know His pardoning love to us, till His Spirit
•britnesses it to our spirit. Since, therefore, this testimony of
His Spirit must precede the love of God and all holiness, of
•consequence it must precede our inward consciousness thereof,
f or the testimony of our spirit concerning them.
9. Then, and not till then, — when the Spirit of God
beareth that witness to our spirit, " God hath loved thee, and
given His own Son to be the propitiation for thy sins ; the Son
of God hath loved thee, and hath washed thee from thy sins
inHis Wood," — "we love God, because He first loved us ; " and,
for His sake, we love our brother also. And of this we cannot
but be conscious to ourselves : we " know the things that are
freely given to us of God." We know that we love God, and
keep His commandments ; and " hereby also we know that we
are of God." This is that testimony of our own spirit, which,
so long as we continue to love God and keep His command-
ments, continues joined with the testimony of God's Spirit,
" that we are the children of God."
10. Not that I would by any means be understood, by any
thing which has been spoken concerning it, to exclude the
operation of the Spirit of God, even from the testimony of
our own spirit. In no wise. It is He that not only worketh
in us every manner of thing that is good, but also shines upon
His own work, and clearly shows what He has wrought. Ac-
cordingly, this is spoken of by St. Paul, as one great end of
our receiving the Spirit, "that we may know the things which
are freely given to us of God : " that He may strengthen the
testimony of our conscience, touching our " simplicity and
godly sincerity ; "" efcid give us to discern, in a fuller and
stronger light, that we now do the things which please Him.
11. Should it still be inquired, " How does the Spirit of
God ' bear witness with our spirit, that we are the children of
God,' so as to exclude all doubt, and evince the reality of our
sonship ? " — the answer is clear from what has been observed
above. And first, as to the witness of our spirit : the soul as
intimately and evidently perceives when it loves, delights,
76 THE WITNESS OE THE SPIRIT.
and rejoices in God, as when it loves and delights in any-
thing on earth. And it can no more doubt, whether it loves,
delights, and rejoices or no, than whether it exists or no.
If, therefore, this be just reasoning,
He that now loves God, that delights and rejoices in Hint-
with an humble joy, and holy delight, and an obedient love,
is a child of God :
But I thus love, delight, and rejoice in God ;
Therefore, I am a child of God : —
Then a Christian can in no wise doubt of his being a child of
God. Of the former proposition he has as full an assurance .
as he has that the Scriptures are of God ; and of his thus
loving God, he has an inward proof, which is nothing short
of self -evidence. Thus, the testimony of our own spirit is
with the most intimate conviction manifested to our hearts,!:
in such a manner, as beyond all reasonable doubt to evince
the reality of our sonship.
12. The manner how the divine testimony is manifested,
to the heart, I do not take upon me to explain. Such know-
ledge is too wonderful and excellent for me : I cannot attain
unto it. The wind bloweth, and I hear the sound thereof ;
but I cannot tell how it cometh, or whither it goeth. As no
one knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of a man
that is in him ; so the manner of the things of God knoweth
no one, save the Spirit of God. But the fact we know;
namely, that the Spirit of God does give a believer such a
testimony of his adoption, that while it is present to the
soul, he can no more doubt the reality of his sonship, than
he can doubt of the shining of the sun, while he stands in
the full blaze of his beams.
II. i. How this joint testimony of God's Spirit and our
spirit may be clearly and solidly distinguished from the pre-
sumption of a natural mind, and from the delusion of the
devil, is the next thing to be considered. And it highly im^
ports all who. desire the salvation of God, to consider it with
the deepest attention, as they would not deceive their own
souls. An error in this is generally observed to have thi
THE WITNESS OF THE SPIRIT. 77
most fatal consequences : the rather, because he that errs,
seldom discovers his mistake, till it is too late to remedy it.
2. And, first, how is this testimony to be distinguished
from the presumption of a natural mind ? It is certain, one
who was never convinced of sin is always ready to flatter
himself, and to think of himself, especially in spiritual things,
more highly than he ought to think. And hence, it is in no
wise strange, if one who is vainly puffed up by his fleshly
mind, when he hears of this privilege of true Christians
among whom he undoubtedly ranks himself, should soon
work himself up into a persuasion that he is already posses-
sed thereof. Such instances now abound in the world, and
have abounded in all ages. How then may the real testi-
mony of the Spirit with our spirit be distinguished from
this damning presumption ?
3. I answer, the holy Scriptures abound with marks,
whereby the one may be distinguished from the other. They
describe, in the plainest manner, the circumstances which go
before, which accompany, and which follow, the true, genuine
testimony of the Spirit of God with the spirit of a believer.
Whoever carefully weighs and attends to these will not need
to put darkness for light. He will perceive so wide a differ-
ence, with respect to all these, between the real and the
pretended witness of the Spirit, that there will be no danger,
I might say, no possibility, of confounding the one with the
4. By these, one who vainly presumes on the gift of God
might surely know, if he really desired it, that he hath been
hitherto " given up to a strong delusion," and suffered to be-
lieve a lie. For the Scriptures lay down those clear, obvious
marks, as preceding, accompanying, and following that gift,
which a little reflection would convince him, beyond all doubt,
were never found in his soul. For instance : the Scripture
describes repentance, or conviction of sin, as constantly go-
ing before this witness of pardon. So, " Repent ; for the
.kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matt. iii. 2.) " Repent
ye, and believe the Gospel." (Mark i. 15.) " Repent, and
» baptized every one of you, for the remission of sins."
78 THE WITNESS OF THE SPIRIT.
(Acts ii. 38.) " Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that
your sins may be blotted out." (Acts iii. 19.) In con-
formity whereto, our Church also, continually places '.repent-
ance before pardon, or the witness of it. " He pardoneth
and absolveth all them that truly repent, and unfeign'effir
believe His holy Gospel." " Almighty God — hath promised
forgiveness of sins to all them who, with hearty repentance
and true faith, turn unto Him." But he is a stranger even
to this repentance : he hath never known a broken and a
contrite heart : "the remembrance of his sins " was never
" grievons unto him," nor " the burden of them intolerable."
In repeating those words, he never meant what he said;
he merely paid a compliment to God. And were it only
from the want of this previous work of God, he hath too
great reason to believe that he hath grasped a mere shaS6w:
and never yet known the real privilege of the sons of .God.
5. Again: the Scriptures describe the being born of God,
which must precede the witness that we are His children^as
a vast and mighty change ; a change " from darkness to
light," as well as "from the power of. Satan unto God;" as
a "passing from death unto life,'" a resurrection from the
dead. Thus the Apostle to the Ephesians : " Toil hath He
quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.", .(ii;.?;)
And again, " "When we were dead in sins, He hath quickened
us together with Christ ; and hath raised us up together,
and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
(Verses 5, 6.) But what knoweth he, concerning whoid "we
now speak, of any such change as this ? He is altogether
unacquainted with this whole matter.. This is a language
which he does not understand. He tells ypu he always was
a Christian. He knows no time when he had need of siich
a change. By this also, if he give himself leave to think,
may he know, that he is not born of the Spirit ; that he has
never yet known God; but has mistaken the voice of nature
for the voice of God.
6. But waving the consideration of whatever he has or
has not experienced in time past ; by the present marks maj
we easily distinguish a child of God from a presumptuous
THE WITNESS OF THE SPIEIT. 79
self-deceiver. The Scriptures describe that joy in the Lord
which accompanies the witness of His Spirit, as an humble joy;
a joy that abases to the dust, that makes a pardoned sinner
cry out, " I am vile ! What am I, or my father's house !
Now mine eye seeth Thee, I abhor myself in dust and ashes ! "
And wherever lowliness is, there is meekness, patience, gen-
tleness, long-suffering. There is a soft, yielding spirit ; a
mildness 'and sweetness, a tenderness of soul, which words
cannot express. But do these fruits attend that supposed
'testimony of the Spirit in a presumptuous man ? Just the
reverse. The more confident he is of the favour of God, the
more is he lifted up ; the more does he exalt himself; the
more haughty and assuming is his whole behaviour. The
stronger witness he imagines himself to have, the more over-
bearing is he to all around him ; the more incapable of
receiving any reproof ; the more impatient of contradiction.
Instead of being more meek, and gentle, and teachable, more
"swift to hear, and slow to speak," he is more slow to hear,
and swift to speak ; more unready to learn of any one ; more
fiery and vehement in his temper, and eager in his conversa-
tion. Tea, perhaps, there will sometimes appear a kind of
fierceness in his air, his manner of speaking, his whole
deportment, as if he were just going to take the matter out
of God's hands, and himself to " devour the adversaries."
7. Once more : the Scriptures teach, " This is the love of
God," the sure mark thereof, " that we keep His command-
ments." (1 John v. 3.) And our Lord Himself saith, " He
that keepeth My commandments, he it is that loveth Me."
(John xiv. 21.) Love rejoices to obey ; to do, in every point,
whatever is acceptable to the beloved. A true lover of God
hastens to do His will on earth as it is done in heaven. But is
this the character of the presumptuous pretender to the love
of God ? Nay, but his love gives him a liberty to disobey, to
break, not keep, the commandments of God. Perhaps, when
he was in fear of the wrath of God, he did labour to do His
will. But now, looking on himself as " not under the law,"
he thinks he is no longer obliged to observe it. He is there-
fore less zealous of good works ; less careful to abstain from
80 THE WITNESS OF THE SPIRIT.
evil ; less watchful over his own heart ; less jealous over hi
tongue. He is less earnest to deny himself, and to take u'
his cross daily. In a word, the whole form of his life i
changed, since he has fancied himself to be at liberty. He is
no longer " exercising himself unto godliness ; " "wrestling
not only with flesh and blood, but with principalities and
powers," enduring hardships, " agonizing to enter in at the
strait gate." Wo ; he has found an easier way to heaven;, a
broad, smooth, flowery path ; in which he can say to his soul,
" Soul, take thy ease ; eat, drink, and be merry." It follows,
with undeniable evidence, that he has not the true testimony
of his own spirit. He cannot be conscious of having those
marks which he hath not ; that lowliness, meekness, and
obedience : nor yet can the Spirit of the God of truth bear
witness to a lie ; or testify that he is a child of God, when
he is manifestly a child of the devil.
8. Discover thyself, thou poor self-deceiver ! — thou who
art confident of being a child of God ; thou who sayest,
" I have the witness in myself," and therefore defiest all thy
enemies. Thou are weighed in the balance and found want-
ing ; even in the balance of the sanctuary. The word of the
Lord hath tried thy soul, and proved thee to be reprobate
silver. Thou art not lowly of heart ; therefore thou hast not
received the Spirit of Jesus unto this day. Thou art not
gentle and meek ; therefore thy joy is nothing worth : it is
not joy in the Lord. Thou dost not keep His commandments^
therefore thou lovest Him not, neither art thou partaker of the
Holy Ghost. It is consequently as certain and as evident, as
the oracles of God can make it, His Spirit doth not bear wit-
ness with thy spirit that thou art a child of God. O cry unto
Him, that the scales may fall off thine eyes ; that thou mayest
know thyself as thou art known ; that thou mayest receive
the sentence of death in thyself, till thou hear the voice that
raises the dead, saying, " Be of good cheer : thy sins are for-
given ; thy faith hath made thee whole."
9. " But how may one who has the real witness in himself
distinguish it from presumption ? " How, I pray, do you dis-
tinguish day from night ? How do you distinguish light from
THE WITNESS OF THE SPIRIT. 81
darkness ; or the light of a star, or a glimmering taper, from
the light of the noonday sun? Is there not an inherent,
obvious, essential difference between the one and the other ?
And do you not immediately and directly perceive that dif-
ference, provided your senses are rightly disposed ? In like
manner, there is an inherent, essential difference between
spiritual light and spiritual darkness ; and between the light
wherewith the Sun of righteousness shines upon our heart,
and that glimmering light which arises only from " sparks of
our own kindling:" and this difference also is immediately and
directly perceived, if our spiritual senses are rightly disposed.
10. To require a more minute and philosophical account of
the manner whereby we distinguish these, and of the criteria,
or intrinsic marks, whereby we know the voice of God, is to
make a demand which can never be answered ; no, not by one
who has the deepest knowledge of God. Suppose, when Paul
answered before Agrippa, the wise Roman had said, " Thou
talkest of hearing the voice of the Son of God. How dost
thou know it was His voice ? By what criteria, what intrinsic
marks, dost thou know the voice of God ? Explain to me the
manner of distinguishing this from a human or angelic voice."
Can you believe, the Apostle himself would have once
attempted to answer so idle a demand ? And yet, doubtless,
the moment he heard that voice, he knew it was the voice of
God. But how he knew this, who is able to explain ? Perhaps
neither man nor angel.
ii. To come yet closer : suppose God were now to speak
to any soul, " Thy sins are forgiven thee,'.' — He must be willing
that soul should know His voice ; otherwise He would speak in
vain. And He is able to effect this ; for, whenever He wills, to
do is present with Him. And He does effect it : that soul is ab-
solutely assured, " This voice is the voice of God." But yet he
who hath that witness in himself cannot explain it to one who
hath it not : nor indeed is it to be expected that he should.
Were there any natural medium to prove, or natural method
to explain, the things of God to unexperienced men, then the
natural man might discern and know the things of the Spirit
of God. But this is utterly contrary to the assertion of the
82 THE WITNESS OP THE SPIRli*.
Apostle, that "he cannot know them, because they 'are
spiritually discerned;" even by spiritual senses, Which the
natural man hath not.
12. " But how shall I know that my spiritual senses are
rightly disposed ? " This also is a question of vast import*
ance ; for if a man mistake in this, he may run on m endless
error and delusion. " And how am I assured that this is not
my case ; and that I do not mistake the voice of the Spirit?"
Even by the testimony of your own spirit : by " the answer of
a good conscience toward God." By the fruits which He hath
wrought in your spirit, you shall know the testimony of the
Spirit of God. Hereby you shall know, that you are in no
delusion, that you have not deceived your own soul. The
immediate fruits of the Spirit, ruling in the heart, are " love)
joy, peace, bowels of mercies, humbleness of mind, meekness;
gentleness, long-suffering." And the outward fruits are, the
doing good to all men; the doing no evil to any ;.' and the
walking in the light,— a zealous, uniform obediencef to all the
commandments of God. >
13. By the same fruits shall you distinguish this voice of
God from any delusion of the devil. That proud spirit cannot
humble thee before God. He neither can nor would soften
thy heart, and melt it first into earnest mourning after Godj
and then into filial love. It is not the adversary of God and
man that enables thee to love thy neighbour; or to put on
meekness, gentleness, patience, temperance, and the whole
armour of God. He is not divided against himself^ -or a
destroys? of sin, his own work. No; it is none but the Son
of God*who cometh " to destroy the works of the devil." As
surely therefore as holiness is of God, and as sin is the work
of the ■devil, so surely the* witness thou hast in thyself is fnot
of Satan, but of God.
14. Well then mayest thou say, "Thanks be unto Gbdf or
His unspeakable gift ! '* ^Thanks be Unto God, who giVeth me
to "know in whom I have believed ; n who hath "senfcforth
th« Spirit of His Son into my heart, crying, Abba, Father,*'
and even now, "bearing witness with my spirit' that I am a
child of God !" And see, that not only thy lips, but thy life
THE WITNESS OK THE SPIEIT. 83
show forth His praise. He hath sealed thee for His own.
Glorify Him then in thy body and thy spirit, which are His.
Beloved, if thou hast this hope in thyself, purify thyself, as
He is pure. While thou beholdest what manner of love the
Father hath given thee, that thou shouldest be called a child
of God, cleanse thyself "from all filthiness of flesh and
spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God;" and let all thy
thoughts, words, and works be a spiritual sacrifice, holy,
acceptable to God through Christ Jesus !
How does Wesley show the importance of the witness of our own spirit ?
See Sec I. L
What w the witness of God's Spirit ?
" It is hard to find words," etc. — SEC. I. 7.
How does he prove that the witness of the Spirit must come before the
witness of our own spirit ?
See Sec I. 8.
How may a child of God verify his sonship by reflection on his own
" He that now loves God," etc.— Sec. I. 11.
How is " the Divine testimony manifested to the heart " ?
See Sec 1. 12.
What are the Scriptural tests by which the authenticity of this inward
testimony may be verified ?
See Sec I. 3, 4, 5, 6.
How does Wesley meet the demand for a philosophic explanation of tha
witness of the Spirit ?
"To require a more minute and philosophic account," etc —
Sec 1. 10.
THE WITNESS OF THE SPIRIT.
" The Spirit itself beareth tvitness ivith our spirit, that we are the
children of God." Romans viii. 16.
II. NONE who believe the Scriptures to be the word of
. God can doubt that the importance of such a truth as
this ; — a truth revealed therein, not once only, not obscurely,
not incidentally ; but frequently, and that in express terms ;
but solemnly and of set purpose, as denoting one of the
peculiar privileges of the children of God.
a. And it is the more necessary to explain and defend this
truth, because there is a danger on the right hand and on the
left. If we deny it, there is a danger lest our religion degene-
rate into mere formality ; lest, having " a form of godliness,"
we neglect, if not " deny, the power of it." If we allow it,
but do not understand what we allow, we are liable to ran
into all the wildness of enthusiasm. It is therefore needful,
in the highest degree, to guard those who fear God from
both these dangers, by a scriptural and rational illustration
and confirmation of this momentous truth.
3. It may seem, something of this kind is the more need- 1
ful because so little has been wrote on the subject with any
clearness ; unless some discourses on the wrong side of thf 1
question, which explain it quite away. And it cannot b«
doubted, but these were occasioned, at least in a greal
measure, by the crude, unscriptural, irrational explicatioi
of others, who "knew not what they spake, nor whereo:
4. It more nearly concerns the Methodists, so called
clearly to understand, explain, and defend this doctrine ; bei
THE WITNESS OF THE SPIRIT. 85
cause it is one grand part of the testimony -which God has
given them to bear to all mankind. It is by His peculiar
blessing upon them in searching the Scriptures, confirmed
by the experience of His children, that this great evangelical
truth has been recovered, which had been for many years
well nigh lost and forgotten.
II. i . But what is the witness of the Spirit ? The
original word, fiaprvpia, may be rendered either (as it is in
several places) the witness, or less ambiguously, the testimony
or the record : so it is rendered in our translation, (1 John v.
11,) " This is the record," the testimony, the sum of what
God testifies in all the inspired writings, " that God hath
given unto us eternal life, and this life is in His Son." The
testimony now under consideration is given by the Spirit of
God to and with our spirit: He is the person testifying.
What He testifies to us is, " that we are the children of God."
The immediate result of this testimony is, " the fruit of the
Spirit; " namely, " love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness,
goodness : " and without these, the testimony itself cannot
continue. For it is inevitably destroyed, not only by the
commission of any outward sin, or the omission of known duty,
but by giving way to any inward sin ; in a word, by what-
ever grieves the Holy Spirit of God.
2. I observed many years ago, " It is hard to find words
in the language of men, to explain the deep things of God.
Indeed, there are none that will adequately express what the
Spirit of God works in His children. But perhaps one might
Bay, (desiring any who are taught of God, to correct, soften,
or strengthen the expression,) by the testimony of the Spirit,
I mean, an inward impression on the soul, whereby the Spirit
of God. immediately and directly witnesses to my spirit, that
I am a child of God ; that Jesus Christ hath loved me, and
given Himself for me ; that all my sins are blotted out,
and I, even I, am reconciled to God."
3. After twenty years' further consideration, I see no
cause to retract any part of this. Neither do I conceive how
*ny of these expressions may be altered, so as to make them
86 THE WITNESS OF THE SPIEIT.
more intelligible. I can only add, that if any of the children
of God will point out any other expressions which are more
dear, or more agreeable to the word of God, I will readily
lay these aside.
4. Meantime let it be observed, I do not mean hereuy,
that the Spirit of God testifies this by any outward voice ;
no, nor always by an inward voice, although He may do this
sometimes. Neither do I suppose, that He always applies
to the heart (though He often may) one or more texts of
Scripture. But He so works upon the soul by His immediate
influence, arid by a strong, thongh ineiplicable operation,
that the stormy wind and troubled wave's subside, and there
is a sweet calm ; the heart resting as in the arms of Jesus,
and the sinner being clearly satisfied that God is reconciled,
that all his " iniquities are forgiven, and his sins covered."
$. Now what is the matter of dispute concerning this?
Not whether there be a witness or testimony of the 'Spirit.
Not whether the Spirit does testify with our spirit that we
are the children of God. None can deny this, without flatly
contradicting the Scriptures, and charging a lie upon the
God of truth. Therefore, that there is a testimony of the
Spirit is acknowledged by all parties.
6. Neither is it questioned, whether there is an indirect;
witness, or testimony, that we are the children of God. This
is nearly, if not exactly, the same with the testimony of a
good conscience towards God ; and is the result of reason, or
reflection on what we feel in our own souls. Strictly speak-
ing, it is a conclusion drawn partly from the word of God,
and partly from our own experience. The word of God
says, every one who has the fruit of the Spirit is a child of
God ; experience, or inward consciousness, tells me, that I
have the fruit of the Spirit ; and hence I rationally conclude,
" Therefore I am a child of God." This is likewise allowed
on all hands, and so is no matter of controversy.
7. Nor do we assert, that there can be any real testimony
of the Spirit without the fruit 1 of the Spirit. We assert, on
the contrary, that the fruit of the Spirit immediately springs
from this testimony ; not always indeed in the same degree,
THE WITNESS OF THE SL'IKIT. 87
even when the testimony is first given ; and much less after-
wards. Neither joy nor peace is always at one stay ; no, nor
love ; as neither is the testimony itself always equally strong
8. But the point in question is, whether there be any
direct testimony of the Spirit at all ; whether there be any
other testimony of the Spirit, than that which arises from a
consciousness of the fruit.
III. i. I believe there is ; because that is the plain,
natural meaning of the text, " The Spirit itself beareth wit-
ness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." It
is manifest, here are two witnesses mentioned, who together
testify the same thing; the Spirit of God, and our own
spirit. The late Bishop of London, in his sermon on this
text, seems astonished that any one can doubt of this, which
appears upon the very face of the words. Now, " The testi-
mony of our own spirit," says the Bishop, " is one, which is
the consciousness of our own sincerity ;" or, to express the
same thing a little more clearly, the consciousness of the
fruit of the Spirit. When our spirit is conscious of this,
of love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, it
easily infers from these premises, that we are the children
2. It is true, that great man supposes the other witness
to he, " the consciousness of our own good works." This, he
affirms, is the testimony of God's Spirit. But this is included
in the testimony of our own spirit ; yea, and in sincerity, even
according to the common sense of the word. So the Apostle,
" Our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that
in simplicity and godly sincerity we have had our conversation
in the world : " whei*e, it is plain, sincerity refers to our
words and actions at least as much as to our inward dispo-
sitions. So that this is not another witness, but the very
same that he mentioned before ; the consciousness of om
good works being only one branch of the consciousness of
our sincerity. Consequently here is only one witness still.
If, therefore, the text speaks of two witnesses, one of these
88 THE WITNESS OP THE SPIRIT.
is not Hie consciousness of our good works, neither of our
sincerity ; all this being manifestly contained in the testi-
mony of our spirit.
3. What then is the other witness ? This might easily
be learned, if the text itself were not sufficiently clear, from
the verse immediately preceding : " Te have received, not tie
spirit of bondage, but the spirit of adoption, whereby we
cry, Abba, Father." It follows, " The Spirit itself beareth
witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God."
4. This is farther explained by the parallel text, (Gal. iv.
6,) " Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of
His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father." Is not
this something immediate and direct, not the result of reflec-
tion or argumentation ? Does not this Spirit cry, " Abba,
Father," in our hearts, the moment it is given, antecedently
to any reflection upon our sincerity ; yea, to any reasoning
whatsoever ? And is not this the plain, natural sense of the
words, which strikes any one as soon as he hears them ? All
these texts then, in their most obvious meaning, describe a
direct testimony of the Spirit.
5. That the testimony of the Spirit of God must, iu the
very nature of things, be antecedent to the testimony of our
own spirit, may appear from this single consideration : we
must be holy in heart and life before we can be conscious
that we are so. But we must love God before we can be
holy at all, this being the root of all holiness. Now, we
cannot love God, till we know He loves us : " We love Him,
because He first loved us : " and we cannot know His love
to us, till His Spirit witnesses it to our spirit. Till then we
cannot believe it ; we cannot say, " The life which I now live,
I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave
Himself for me."
" Then, only then we feel
Our interest in His blood,
And cry, with joy unspeakable,
Thou art my Lord, my God ! "
Since, therefore, the testimony of His Spirit must precede
THE WITNESS OF THE SPIEIT. 89
the love of God, and all holiness, of consequence it must pre-
cede our consciousness thereof.
6. And here properly comes in, to confirm this scriptural
doctrine, the experience of the children of God ; the expe-
rience not of two or three, not of a few, but of a great mul-
titude which no man can number. It has been confirmed,
both in this and in all ages, by " a cloud " of living and dying
" witnesses." It is confirmed by your experience and mine.
The Spirit itself bore witness to my spirit, that I was a child
of God, gave me an evidence hereof ; and I immediately cried,
"Abba, Father ! " And this I did (and so did you) before I
reflected on, or was conscious of, any fruit of the Spirit. It
was from this testimony received, that love, joy, peace, and
the whole fruit of the Spirit flowed. First, I heard,
" Thy sins are forgiven 1 Accepted thou art ! —
I listen'd, and heaven sprung up in my heart."
7. But this is confirmed, not only by the experience of the
children of God, — thousands of whom can declare that they
never did know themselves to be in the favour of God till it
was directly witnessed to them by His Spirit, — but by all
those who are convinced of sin, who feel the wrath of God
abiding on them. These cannot be satisfied with anything
less than a direct testimony from His Spirit, — that He is
" merciful to their unrighteousness, and remembers their sins
and iniquities no more." Tell any of these, " You are to
know you are a child, by reflecting on what He has wrought
in you, on your love, joy, and peace ; " and will he not im-
mediately reply, " By all this I know I am a child of the
devil ? I have no more love to God than the devil has ; my
carnal mind is enmity against God. I have no joy in the
Holy Ghost ; my soul is sorrowful even unto death. I have
no peace ; my heart is a troubled sea ; I am all storm and
tempest." And which way can these souls possibly be com-
forted, but. by a divine testimony (not that they are good, or
sincere, or comformable to the Scripture in heart and life,
but) that God justifieth the ungodly ? — him that, till the
moment he is justified, is all ungodly, void of all true holi-
90 THE WITNESS OF THE SPIRIT.
ness ; " him that worketh not," that worketh- nothing that is
truly good, till he is conscious that h©' is accepted, not for
any " works of righteousness which he hath done/* 'but 1 by
the mere, free mercy of God; wholly and solely for what thfr
Son of God hath done and suffered for him. And can it be
any otherwise^ if " a man is justified by faith, without the
works of the law ? " If so, what inwai'd or outward goodn&Bs
can he be conscious of antecedent to his justification- ? 'Na/,'.
is not the having nothing to pay, that is, the being 1 consciouii
that " there dwelleth in us no good thing," neither inward nor
outward goodness, essentially, indispensably necessary, before
we can be "justified freely, through the redemption thai is
in Jesus Christ ? " "Was ever any man justified since his
coming into the world, or can any man ever be justified, till
he is brought to that point, —
" I give up every plea beside, —
Lord, I am damn'd ; but Thou hast died? "
8. Every one, therefore, who denies the existence' of such
a testimony, does in effect deny justification by faith. ' 14
follows, that either he! never experienced this, either he' never
was justified, or that he has forgotten, as St. Peter speahfei
rov KaQapurpov twv ir&kai abrov afiapriwv, the purification frortiJdi
former sins ; the experience he then had himself ; the manner
wherein God wrought in his own soul, when his former'-sins
were blotted out.
9. And the experience even of the children of the world
here confirms that of the children of God. Many of theBe'
have a desire to please God : some of them take much pains
to please Him: but do they not, one arid all, count it the
highest absurdity for any to talk of Mowing his sins are for-
given ? Which of fhem even pretends to any such thing ?
Arid yet many of them are conscious of their owri ^Sincerity.
Many of them undoubtedly have, in a degree, the testimony
of their own spirit, a consciousness of their own uprightness.
But this brings them no consciousness that they are forgiven;
no knowledge that they are the children of God. Yea; the
more sincere they are, the more Uneasy they generally are,
THE WITNESS OP THE SPIRIT. 91
for want of knowing it ; plainly showing that this cannot be
known, in a satisfactory manner, by the bare testimony of
our own spirit, without God's directly testifying that we are
IV But abundance of objections have been made to this;
the chief of which it may be well to consider.
i. It is objected, first, "Experience is not sufficient to
prove a doctrine which is not founded on Scripture." This
is undoubtedly true ; and it is an important truth : but it does
not affect the present question ; for it has been shown, that
this doctrine is founded on Scripture : therefore experience
is properly alleged to confirm it.
2. "But madmen, French prophets, and enthusiasts of
every kind, have imagined they experienced this witness."
They have so ; and perhaps not a few of them did, although
they did not retain it long: but if they did not, this is no
proof at all that others have not experienced it ; as a mad-
man's imagining himself a King, does not prove that there
are no real Kings.
" Nay, many who pleaded strongly for this, have utterly
decried the Bible." Perhaps so ; but this was no necessary
consequence : thousands plead for it who have the highest
esteem for the Bible. " Tea, but many have fatally deceived
themselves hereby, and got above all conviction."
And yet a scriptural doctrine is no worse, though men
abuse it to their own destruction.
3. " But I lay it down as an undoubted truth, the fruit
of the Spirit is the witness of the Spirit." Not undoubted ;
thousands doubt of, yea, flatly deny it : but let that pass.
" If this witness be sufficient, there is no need of any other.
But it is sufficient, unless in one of these cases : 1. The total
absence of the fruit of the Spirit." And this is the case, when
the direct witness is first, given. 2. " The not perceiving it.
But to contend for it in this case, is to contend for being in
the favour of God, and not knowing it." True ; not knowing
it at that time any otherwise than by the testimony which is
•given for that end. And this we do contend for ; we contend
92 THE WITNESS OF THE SPIRIT.
that %he direct witness may shine clear, even while the in-
direct one is under a cloud.
4. It is objected, secondly, " The design of the witness
contended for is, to prove that the profession we make: is
genuine. But it does not prove this." I answer, the proving
this is not the design of it. It is antecedent to our making
any profession at all, but that of being lost, undone, guilty,
helpless sinners. It is designed to assure those to whom it is
given, that they are the children of God ; that they are " jus-
tified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in
Jesus Christ." And this does not suppose that their preced-
ing thoughts, words, and actions, are comf ormable to the rule
of scripture ; it supposes quite the reverse; namely, that they.
are sinners all over ; sinners both in heart and life. Were it
otherwise, God would justify the godly ; and their own works
would be counted to them for righteousness. And I cannot but
fear that a supposition of our being justified by works is at
the root of all these objections; for, whoever cordially believes
that God imputes to all that are justified righteousness ( without
works, will find no difficulty in allowing the witness of His
Spirit, preceding the fruit of it.
5. It is objected, thirdly, "One Evangelist says, 'Tour
heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to them that ask
Him.' The other Evangelist calls the same thing 'good
gifts ; ' abundantly demonstrating that the Spirit's way of
bearing witness is by giving good gifts." Nay, here is
nothing at all about bearing witness, either in the one text or
the other. Therefore till this demonstration is better demon-
strated, I let it stand as it is.
6. It is objected, fourthly, " The Scripture says, ' The tree
is known by its fruits. Prove all things. Try the spirits.
Examine yourselves.' " Most true. Therefore, let every man
who believes he " hath the witness in himself," try whether it
be of God : if the fruit follow, it is ; otherwise it is not. For
certainly " the tree is known by its fruit : " hereby we prove
if it be " of God." " But the direct witness is never referred
to in the book of God." Not as standing alone ; not as a
gingle witness ; but as connected with the other ; as giving a
THE WITNESS OF THE SPIRIT. 9b
joint testimony ; testifying with our spirit, that we are children
of God. And who is able to prove, that it is not thus referred
to in this very scripture ? " Examine yourselves whether ye
be in the faith ; prove your own selves. Know ye not your
own selves, that Jesus Christ is in you ? " It is by no means
clear, that they did not know this by a direct as well as a
remote witness. How is it proved, that they did not know it,
first, by an inward consciousness ; and then, by love, joy, and
7. "But the testimony arising from the internal and ex-
ternal change is constantly referred to in the Bible." It is
so : and we constantly refer thereto, to confirm the testimony
of the Spirit.
" Nay, all the marks you have given, whereby to distin-
guish the operations of God's Spirit from delusion, refer to
the change wrought in us and upon us." This, likewise, is
8. It is objected, fifthly, that " the direct witness of the
Spirit does not secure us from the greatest delusion. And
is that a witness fit to be trusted, whose testimony cannot
be depended on ? that is forced to fly to something else, to
prove what it asserts P " I answer : To secure us from all
delusion, God gives us two witnesses that we are His children.
And this they testify conjointly. Therefore, "what God hath
joined together, let no man put asunder." And while they
are joined, we cannot be deluded : their testimony can be de-
pended on. They are fit to be trusted in the highest degree,
and need nothing else to prove what they assert.
"Nay, the direct witness only asserts, but does not
prove anything." By two witnesses shall every word be
established. And when the Spirit witnesses with our spirit,
as God designs it to do, then it fully proves that we are
children of God.
9. It is objected, sixthly, " You own the change wrought
is a sufficient testimony, unless in the case of severe trials,
such as that of our Saviour upon the cross ; but none of us
can be tried in that manner." But you or I may be tried in
such a manner, and so may any other child of God, that it
THE WITNESS OF THE SPIEIT.
will be impossible for us, to keep our filial confidence in God
without the direct witness of His Spirit.
10. It is objected, lastly, "The greatest contenders for it
are some of the proudest and most uncharitable of men."
Perhaps some of the hottest contenders for it are both proud
and uncharitable ; but many of the firmest contenders for it
are eminently meek and lowly in heart ; and, indeed, in all
other respects also,
" True followers of their lamb-like Lord."
The preceding objections are the most considerable that I
have heard, and I believe contain the strength of the cause.
Yet I apprehend whoever calmly and impartially considers
those' objections and the answers together, will easily see that
they do not destroy, no, nor weaken, the evidence of that
great truth, that the Spirit of God does directly, as well as
indirectly, testify that we are children of God.
V i. The sum of all is this : the testimony of the Spirit
is an inward impression on the souls of believers, whereby
the Spirit of God directly testifies to their spirit, that they
are children of God. And it is not questioned, whether there
is a testimony of the Spirit; but whether there is any direit
testimony; whether there is any other than that which arises
from a consciousness of the fruit of the Spirit. "We believe
there is ; because this is the plain natural meaning of the
text, illustrated both by the preceding words, andby the
parallel passage in the Epistle to the Galatians; because, in
the nature of the thing, the testimony must precede the fruit
which springs from it; and because this plain meaning of the
word of God is confirmed by the experience of innumerable
children of God; yea, and by t .the experience of all who are
convinced of sin, who can never rest till they have a direct
witness; and even of the children of the world, who, not
having the witness in themselves, one and all declare, none
can know- -his sins forgiven.
1. And whereas it is objected, that experience is not suffi-
cient to prove a doctrine unsupported by Scripture; — that
THE WITNESS OF THE SPIRIT. 95
madmen and enthusiasts of every kind have imagined such a
witness ;— that the design of that witness is to prove our pro-
fession genuine, which design it does not answer ; — that the
Scripture says, " The tree is known by its fruit ; " "examine
yourselves; prove your ownselves; " and, meantime, the direct
witness is never referred to in all the book of God ; — that
it does not secure us from the greatest delusions; — and,
lastly, that the change wrought in us is a sufficient testimony,
unless in such trials as Christ alone suffered : — we answer,
1. Experience is sufficient to confirm a doctrine which is
grounded on Scripture. 2. Though many fancy they experi-
ence what they do not, this is no prejudice to real experience.
3. The design of that witness is, to assure us we are children
of God ; and this design it does answer. 4. The true witness
of the Spirit is known by its fruit, " love, peace, joy ; " not
indeed preceding, but following it. 5. It cannot be proved,
that the direct as well as the indirect witness is not referred
to in that very text, " Know ye not your ownselves, that Jesus
Christ is in you ? " 6. The Spirit of God, witnessing with
our spirit, does secure us from all delusion : and, lastly, we
are all liable to trials, wherein the testimony of our own
spirit is not sufficient ; wherein nothing less that the direct
testimony of God's Spirit can assure us that we are His
S- Two inferences may be drawn from the whole; the first,
Let none ever presume to rest in any supposed testimony of
the Spirit, which is separate from the fruit of it. If the Spirit
of God does really testify that we are the children of God, the
immediate consequence will be the fruit of the Spirit, even
"love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, fidelity,
meekness, temperance." And however this fruit may be
clouded for a while, during the time of strong temptation, so
that it does not appear to the tempted person, while Satan is
sifting him as wheat ; yet the substantial part of it remains,
even under the thickest cloud. It is true, joy in the Holy
Ghost may be withdrawn, during the hour of trial ; yea, the
wmlmay be "exceeding sorrowful," while "the hour and
power of darkness" continue; but even this .is. generally
96 THE WITNESS OF THE SPIRIT.
restored with increase, till we rejoice "with joy unspeakable
and full of glory."
4. The second inference is, Let none rest in any supposed
fruit of the Spirit without the witness. There may be fore-
tastes of joy, of peace, of love, and those not delusive, but
really from God, long before we have the witness in our.
selves ; before the Spirit of God witnesses with our spirits
that we have " redemption in the blood of Jesus, even the
forgiveness of sins." Tea, there may be a degree qf long,
suffering, of gentleness, of fidelity, meekness, temperance,
(not a shadow thereof, but a real degree, by the preventing
grace of God,) before we " are accepted in the Beloved,"
and, consequently, before we have a testimony of our ac-
ceptance: but it is by no means advisable to rest here;
it is at the peril of our souls if we do. If we are wise, we
shall be continually crying to God, until His Spirit cry in oui
heart, " Abba, Father ! " This is the privilege of all the chil-
dren of God, and without this we can never be assured thai
we are His children. "Without this we cannot retain a steadj
peace, nor avoid perplexing doubts and fears. But when we
have once received this Spirit of adoption, this "peace, which
passeth all understanding," and which expels all painful doubt
and fear, will "keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."
And when this has brought forth its genuine fruit, all inward
and outward holiness, it is undoubtedly the will of Him that
calleth us, to give us always what He has once given : so that
there is no need that we should ever more be deprived of
either the testimony of God's Spirit or the testimony of our
own, the consciousness of our walking in all righteousness and
!N"ewkt, April 4, 1767.
Is the witness of the Spirit an obscure and merely incidental doctrine of
On the contrary it is "a truth revealed therein not once onlv " etc.
—SEC. I. 1. ■"
THE WITNESS OP THE SPIBIT. 97
iTiom does it most nearly concern strongly to maintain, and at the same
time carefully to guard, this doctrine?
" The Methodists."— Sec. I. 4.
mlHiat is the relative date of the second to the first discourse ?
The second was written " after twenty years further consideration "
—Sec. II. 3.
«Iow does he explain the word " impression on the soul " ?
See Sec. II. 2, 4
*'s the doctrine of the witness of the Spirit peculiar to the Methodists, or
is it held by the Universal Church ?
" That there is a testimony of the Spirit is acknowledged by all
parties."— Sec. II. 5.
What then is " the point in question " on this subject ?
" The point in question is whether there be any direct testimony of
the Spirit," etc.-rSEC. II. 7.
Is the witness of the Spirit always equally strong and clear ?
No. " Neither joy nor peace is always at one stay," etc.— Sec II. 7.
'What contemporary theologian does Wesley quote in favour of the direct
witness of the Spirit, although he denies it ?
" The late Bishop of London." (See Bishop Sherlock, Sermon VIII.)
What confirmation of this doctrine have we beside Scripture 1
" The experience of the children of God," etc. — Sec III. 6.
How does he prove the necessity of the direct witness ?
" All those who are convinced of sin cannot be satisfied with
anything less," etc. — Sec III. 7.
How does he show that the objection to the direct witness is, at the
bottom, a legalist and Popish objection ?
" I cannot but fear that a supposition of our being justified by works
is at the root of all these objections," etc. — Sec IV 4.
Is the witness of the Spirit separate, as well as distinct, from that of our
It is "a joint testimony."— Sec. IV. 6.
Is it safe to rest satisfied with either of the witnesses without the other 1
No. " To secure us from delusion, God gives us two witnesses," etc.
—Sec IV 8.
What is Wesley's summing up, and his accompanying caution ?
See Sec V 1, 2.
98 THE WITNESS OF THE SHBIT.
Does "Wesley discuss this subject in the spirit of a fair expositor and a
sound theologian 1
Yes, for he reasons entirely from Scripture and experience. -and
meets every objection face to face.
What is his final advice ? Is it worth attending to and enforcing}
See the last paragraph.
ON SIN IN BELIEVERS
" If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature." 2 Cor. v. 17.
J i. IS there then sin in him that is in Christ ? Does sin
. remain in one that believes in Him ? Is there any sin in
them that are born of God, or are they wholly delivered from
it? Let no one imagine this to be a question of mere
curiosity ; or that it is of little importance whether it be
determined one way or the other. Rather it is a point of
the utmost moment to every serious Christian ; the resolving
of which very nearly concerns both his present and eternal
2. And yet I do not know that ever it was controverted
in the primitive church. Indeed there was no room for dis-
puting concerning it, as all Christians were agreed. And
so far as I have ever observed, the whole body of ancient
Christians, who have left us anything in writing, declare with
one voice, that even believers in Christ, till they are "strong
in the Lord and in the power of liis might," have need to
" wrestle with flesh and blood," with an evil nature, as well
as " with principalities and powers."
3. And herein our own church (as indeed in most points)
exactly copies after the primitive; declaring in her Ninth
Article, " Original sin is the corruption of the nature of every
man, whereby man is in his own nature inclined to evil, so
that the flesh lusteth contrary to the Spirit. And this infec-
tion of nature doth remain, yea, in them that are regenerated;
whereby the lust of the flesh, called in Greek <ppovrifia oapcKoc,
is not snbject to the law of God. And although thero is no
condemnation for them that believe, yet this lust hath of
itself the nature of sin."
4. The same testimony is given by all other Churches ;
100 ON SIN IN BELIEVERS.
not only by the Greek and Romish Church, but by every
Reformed Church in Europe, of whatever denomination.
Indeed some of these seem to carry the thing too far ; so
describing the corruption of heart in a believer, as scarce to
allow that he has dominion over it, but, rather, is in bondage
thereto; and, by this means, they leave hardly any distinction
between a believer and an unbeliever.
5. To avoid this extreme, many well-meaning men, parti-
cularly those under the direction of the late Count Zinzen-
dorf , ran into another ; affirming, that " all true believers are
not only saved from the dominion of sin, but from the being of
inward as well as outward sin, so that it no longer remains in
them : " and from them, about twenty years ago, many of our
countrymen imbibed the same opinion, that even the corrupt
tion of nature is no more, in those who believe in Christ. ■■
6. It is true that, when the Germans were pressed upon
this head, they soon allowed, (many of them at least,) that
" sin did still remain in the flesh, but not in the heart of a be-
liever : " and, after a time, when the absurdity of this was
shown, they fairly gave up the point ; allowing that sin did
still remain, though not reign, in him that is born of God.
7. But the English, who had received it from them, (some
directly, some at second or third hand,) were not so easily
prevailed upon to part with a favourite opinion : and even
when the generality of them were convinced it was utterly
indefensible, a few could not be persuaded to give it up, but
maintain it to this day.
II. 1. Eor the sake of these who really fear God, and
desire to know " the truth as it is in Jesus," it may not be
amiss to consider the point with calmness and impartiality,
In doing this, I use indifferently the words, regenerate, justified
or believers ; since, though they have not precisely the same
meaning, (the first implying an inward, actual change, the
second a relative one, and the third the means whereby both
the one and the other are wrought,) yet they come to one and
the same thing; as every one that believes, is both justified
and born of God.
ON SIN IN BELIEVERS. 101
a. By sin, I here understand inward sin ; any sinful
temper, passion, or affection ; such as pride, self-will, love
of the world, in any kind or degree ; such as lust, anger,
peevishness ; any disposition contrary to the mind which was
3. The question is not concerning outward sin; whether a
child of God commit sin or no. We all agree and earnestly
maintain, " He that committeth sin is of the devil." We
agree, "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin."
Neither do we now inquire whether inward sin will always
remain in the children of God ; whether sin will continue in
the soul as long as it continues in the body : nor yet do we
inquire whether a justified person may relapse either into
inward or outward sin ; but simply this, Is a justified or
regenerate man freed from all sin as soon as he is justified ?
Is there then no sin in his heart ? — nor ever after, unless he
fall from grace ?
4. We allow that the state of a justified person is inex-
pressibly great and glorious. He is born again, " not of
blood, nor of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."
He is a child of God, a member of Christ, an heir of the king-
dom of heaven. " The peace of God, which passetli all under-
standing, keepeth his heart and mind in Christ Jesus." His
very body is a "temple of the Holy Ghost," and an "habita-
tion of God through the Spirit." He is " created anew in
Christ Jesus : " he is washed, he is sanctified. His heart is
purified by faith ; he is cleansed " from the corruption that is
in the world ; " " the love of God is shed abroad in his heart,
by the Holy Ghost which is given unto him." And so long
as he "walketh in love," (which he may always do,) he
worships God in spirit and in truth. He keepetli the com-
mandments of God, and doeth those things that are pleasing
in His sight ; so exercising himself as to " have a conscience
void of offence Inward God, and toward men:" and ho lias
power both over outward and inward sin, even from the
moment he is justified.
Ill 1. "But was he not then freed from all sin, so that
102 on sin in believers.
there is no sin in his heart ? " I cannot say this ; I cannot
believe it ; "because St. Paul says the contrary. He is speak-
ing to believers, and describing the state of believers in
general, when he says, "The flesh lnsteth against the Spirit,
and the Spirit against the flesh : these are contrary the one
to the other." (Gal. v. 17.) Nothing can be more express*
The Apostle here directly affirms that the flesh, evil nature,
opposes the Spirit, even in believers ; that even in the "re-
generate there are two principles, " contrarv the one to the
2. Again : when he writes to the believers at Corinth, io
those who were " sanctified in Christ Jesus," (1 Cor. i. 2,) he
says, " I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual,
but as unto carnal, as Unto babes in Christ. Te are yet
carnal : for whereas there is among you envying and strife, are
ye not carnal ? " (Chap. iii. 1, 3.) Now, here the Apostle
speaks unto those who were unquestionably believers,— whom,
in the same breath, he styles his brethren in Christ, — as being
still, in a measure, carnal. He affirms, there was envying, (an
evil temper,) occasioning strife among them, and yet does not
give the least intimation that they had lost their faith. Nay,
he manifestly declares they had not ; for then they would not
have been babes in Christ. And (what is most remarkable of
all) he speaks of being carnal, and babes in Christ, as one and
the same thing ; plainly showing that every believer is (in a
degree) carnal, while he is only a babe in Christ.
3. Indeed this grand point, that there are two contrary
principles in believers, — nature and grace, the flesh and the
Spirit, runs through all the Epistles of St. Paul, yea, through
all the holy Scriptures ; almost all the directions and exhorta-
tions therein are founded on this supposition; pointing "at
wrong tempers or practices in those who are,' notwithstanding,
acknowledged by the inspired writers to be believers. And
they are continually exhorted to fight with and conquer these
by the power of the faith which was in them.
4. And who can doubt, but there was faith in the angel of
the church of Ephesus, when our Lord said to him, " I know
thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience : thou hast
ON SIN IN BELIEVEKS. 103
patience, and for My name's sake hast laboured, and hast not
fainted ? " (Rev. ii. 2 — 4.) But was there, meantime, no sin
in his heart ? Yea, or Christ -would not have added, " Never-
theless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left
thy first love." This was real sin which God saw in his heart ;
of which, accordingly, he is exhorted to repent : and yet we
have no authority to say, that even then he had no faith.
5. Nay, the angel of the church at Pergamos, also, is ex-
horted to repent, which implies sin, though our Lord expressly
says, " Thou hast not denied My faith." (Yerses 13, 16.)
And to the angel of the church in Sardis He says, " Strengthen
the things which remain, that are ready to die." The good
which remained was ready to die, but was not actually
dead. (Chap. iii. 2.) So there was still a spark of faith
even in him ; which he is accordingly commanded to [hold
fast. (Verse 3-) op
ib 6. Once more : when the Apostle exhorts believers to
"cleanse themselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit," (2
Oor. vii. 1,) he plainly teaches, that those believers were not
yet cleansed therefrom.
"Will you answer, " He that abstains from all appearance
pf evil does, ipso facto, cleanse himself from all filthiness ? "
Not in anywise. For instance : a man reviles me : I feel
resentment, which is filthiness of spirit ; yet I say not a word.
Here I " abstain from all appearance of evil ; " but this does
not cleanse me from that filthiness of spirit, as I experience
to my sorrow.
k 7. And as this position, " There is no sin in a believer, no
carnal mind, no bent to backsliding," is thus contrary to tho
word of God, so it is to the experience of His children. These
continually feel an heart bent to backsliding ; a natural ten-
dency to evil ; a proneness to depart from God, and cleave to
the things of earth. They are daily sensible of sin remaining
in their heart,— pride, self-will, unbelief ; and of sin cleaving
to all they speak and do, even their best actions and holiest
duties. Yet at the same time they " know that they are of
God ; " they cannot doubt of it for a moment. They feel His
Spirit clearly " witnessing with their spirit, that they are the
104 ON SIN IN BELIEVERS.
children of Gtod." They "rejoice in God through Christ Jesus,
by whom they have now received the atonement." So that
they are equally assured, that sin is in them, and that " Christ
is in them the hope of glory."
8. " But can Christ be in the same heart where sin is ? "
Undoubtedly He can ; otherwise it never could be saved there-
from. Where the sickness is, there is the Physician,
" Carrying on His work within,
Striving till He cast out sin."
Christ indeed cannot reign where sin reigns ; neither will H«
dwell where any sin is allowed. But He is and dwells in th<
heart of every believer, who is fighting against all sin; al
though it be not yet purified, according to the purification o:
9. It has been observed before, that the opposite doctrine
— that there is no sin in believers — is quite new in the church
of Christ ; that it was never heard of for seventeen hundred
years ; never till it was discovered by Count Zinzendorf . I do
»not remember to have seen the least intimation of it, either in
any ancient or modern writer ; unless perhaps in some of the
wild, ranting Antinomians. And these likewise say and unsay,
acknowledging there is sin in their flesh, although no sin in
their heart. But whatever doctrine is new must be wrong ; for
the old religion is the only true one ; and no doctrine can
be right, unless it is the very same " which was from the
10. One argument more against this new, nnscriptural
doctrine may be drawn from the dreadful consequences of it.
One says, " I felt anger to-day." Must I reply, " Then you
have no faith ? " Another says, « I know what you advise is
good, but my will is quite averse to it." Must I tell him,
" Then you are an unbeliever, under the wrath and the curse
of God ? " "What will be the natural consequence of this ?
"Why, if he believe what I say, his soul will not only be grieved
and wounded, but perhaps utterly destroyed; inasmuch as he
Will "cast away " that " confidence which hath great recom-
pense of reward j " and having cast away his shield, how shall
ON SIN IN BELIEVERS. 105
he " quench the fiery darts of the wicked one ? " How shall
he overcome the ■world? — seeing "this is the victory that
orercometh the world, even our faith." He stands disarmed
in the midst of his enemies, open to all their assaults. "What
yonder, then, if he be utterly overthrown : if they take him
captive at their will ; yea, if he fall from one wickedness to
another, and never see good any more ? I cannot, therefore,
by any means receive this assertion, that there is no sin in a
believer from the moment he is justified ; first, because it is
contrary to the whole tenor of Scripture ; — secondly, because
it is contrary to the experience of the children of God ; —
thirdly, because it is absolutely new, never heard of in the
world till yesterday; — and, lastly, because it is naturally
attended with the most fatal consequences ; not only grieving
those whom God hath not grieved, but perhaps dragging them
into everlasting perdition.
IV i. However, let us give a fair hearing to the chief
arguments of those who endeavour to support it. And it is,
first, from Scripture they attempt to prove that there is no sin
in a believer. They argue thus : " The Scripture says, Every
believer is born of God, is clean, is holy, is sanctified, is pure
in heart, has a new heart, is a temple of the Holy Ghost.
Now, as ' that which is born of the flesh is flesh,' is altogether,
evil, so ' that which is born of the Spirit is spirit,' is altogether
good. Again : a man cannot be clean, sanctified, holy, and at
the same time unclean, unsanctified, unholy. He cannot be
pure and impure, or have a new and an old heart together.
Neither can his soul be unholy, while it is a temple of the Holy
I have put this objection as strong as possible, that its
fall weight may appear. Let us now examine it part by part.
And, 1. " That which is born of the Spirit is spirit, is alto-
gether good." I allow the text, but not the comment. For
the text affirms this, and no more, — that every man who is
''born of the spirit " is a spiritual man. He is so : but so he
may be, and yet not be altogether spiritual. The Christians
at Corinth were spiritual men; else they had been no
106 ON SIN IN BELIEVERS.
Christians at all : and yet they were not altogether spiritual f
they were still; in part, carnal. — " But they were fallen from?
grace." St. Paul says, No. They were even then babes'ini
Christ. 2. " But a man cannot be clean, sanctified, holy, andii
at the same time unclean, unsanctified, unholy." Indeed he:
may. So the Corinthians were. "Ye are washed," says the;
Apostle, " ye are sanctified ; '* namely, cleansed from " forni- 1
cation, idolatry, drunkenness," and all other outward sin ;j
(1. Cor. vi. 9 — 11;) and yet, at the same time, in another;
sense of the word, they were unsanctified; they were not
washed, not inwardly cleansed from envy, evil-surmising; .
partiality. — "But sure, they had not a new heart and an old-
heart together." It it most sure they had ; for, at that very
time, their hearts were truly, yet not entirely, renewed. Their
carnal mind was nailed to the cross ; yet it was not wholly
destroyed. — "But could they be unholy, while they were
temples of the Holy Ghost ? " Yes ; that they were temples
of the Holy Grhost is certain ; (1 Cor. vi. 19;) and it is equally
certain, they were, in some degree, carnal, that is, unholy! '<|
2. " However, there is one scripture more which will put
the matter out of question : ' If any man be ' a believer 'in
Christ, he is a new creature. Old things are passed away ;
behold, all things are become new.' (2 Cor. v. 17.) Now;
certainly a man cannot be a new creatureand an old creature
at once." Yes, he may: he may be partly renewed, which
was the very case with those at Corinth. They were doubt-
less " renewed in the spirit of their mind," or they could not
have been so much as " babes in Christ ; " yet they had' not
the whole mind which was in Christ, for they envied One
another. " But it is said expressly, ' Old things are passed
away ; all things are become new.' " But w must not so
interpret the Apostle's Words, as to make him contradibfr'him-
self. And if we will make him consistent with himself; the
plain meaning of the words is this: His old judgment con-
cerning justification, holiness, happiness, indeed concerning
the things of Cod in general, is now passed away ; + so are his
old desires, designs, affections, tempers, and conversati6n.
All these are undeniably become new, greatly changed from
ON SIN IN BELIEVERS. 107
what they were ; and yet', though they are new, they are not
wholly new. Still he feel's, to his sorrow and shame, remains
of the old man, tod manifest taints of his former tempers and
fcffections, though they cannot gain any advantage over him,
as long as he watches unto prayer.
3. This whole argument, " If he is clean, he is clean ; "
"If he is holy, he is holy ; " (and twenty more expressions of
the same kind may easily be heaped together ;) is really no
better than playing upon words ; it is the fallacy of arguing
from a particular to a general ; of inferring a general conclu-
sion from particular premises. Propose the sentence entire,
tmdit rnns thus : "If he is holy at all, he is holy altogether."
That does not follow : every babe in Christ is holy, and yet
not altogether so. He is saved from sin ; yet not entirely : it
Remains, though it does not reign. If you think it does not
'remain, (in babes at least whatever be the case with young
men or fathers,) you certainly have not considered the height,
and depth, and length, and breadth of the law of God ; (even
the law of love laid down by St. Paul in the thirteenth of
Corinthians;) and that every avofiia, disconformity to, or
deviation from, this law, is sin. Now, is there no discon-
formity to this in the heart or life of a believer ? What
may be in an adult Christian, is another question ; but what
a stranger must he be to human nature, who can possibly
imagine, that this is the case with every babe in Christ !
4. " But believers ' walk after the Spirit,'* (Rom viii. 1,)
and the Spirit of God dwells in them ; consequently, they
are delivered from the guilt, the power, or, in one word, the
Deing of sin."
These are coupled together, as if they were the same
thing. But they are not the same thing. The guilt is one
thing, the power another, and the being yet another. That
believers are delivered from the guilt and power of sin, we
* What follows for some pages is an answer to a paper published in
the Christian Magazine, pp. 577—582. I am surprised Mr. Dodd should
give such a paper a place in his Magazine, which is directly contrary to
our Ninth Article.
108 ON SIN IN BELIEVERS.
allow ; that they are delivered from the being of it, we den
Nor does it in any wise follow from these texts. A man ms
have the Spirit of God dwelling in him, and may " walk af t(
the Spirit," though he still feels " the flesh lusting again!
5. " But ' the church is the body of Christ ; ' (Col. i. 24
this implies, that its members are washed from all filthiness
otherwise it will follow, that Christ and Belial are incoi
porated with each other."
Nay, it will not follow from hence, " Those who are the*
mystical body of Christ still feel the flesh lusting against thi-'
Spirit," that Christ has any fellowship with the devil, or-
with that sin which He enables them to resist and overcome;:
6. " But are not Christians ' come to the heavenly Jeru-
salem,' where ' nothing defiled can enter ? ' " (Heb. xii. 22.)
Yes ; " and to an innumerable company of angels, and to the
spirits of just men made perfect : " that is,
■■ " Earth and heaven all agree,
All is one great family."
And they are likewise holy and undefiled, while they "walk
after the Spirit ; " although sensible there is another prin-
ciple in them, and that " these are contrary to each other." ;
7. "But Christians are reconciled to God. Now, this
could not be, if any of the carnal mind remained ; for this is
enmity against God : consequently, no reconciliation can be
effected, but by its total destruction."
We are "reconciled to God through the blood of the
cross : " and in that moment the (ppovrj/jia crapKog, the corrup-
tion of nature, which is enmity with God, is put under our
feet ; the flesh has no more dominion over us. But it still
exists, and it is still in its nature enmity with God, lusting
against His Spirit.
8. " But ' they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh
with its affections and lusts.' " (Gal. v. 24.) They have so ;
yet it remains in them still, and often struggles to break from
the cross. " Nay, but they have ' put off the old man with
his deeds.'" (Col. iii. 9.) They have; arid, in the sense
ON SIN IN BELIEVERS. 109
shore described, " old things are passed away ; all things are
become new." A hundred texts may be cited to the same
effect; and they will all admit of the same answer.—" But,
to say all in one word, « Christ gave Himself for the church,'
that it might be holy and without blemish.' " (Eph. v. 25,
27.) And so it will be in the end : but it never was yet'
from the beginning to this day.
o. "But let experience speak: all who are justified do
at that time find an absolute freedom from all sin." That I
doubt : but, if they do, do they find it ever after ? Else you
gain nothing.—" If they do not, it is their own fault." That
remains to be proved.
Jo. " But in the very nature of things, can a man have
pnde in him, and not be proud; anger, and yet not be
angry ? "
A man may have pride in him, may think of himself in
some particulars above what he ought to think, (and so be
proud in that particular,) and yet not be a proud man in his
general character. He may have anger in him, yea, and a
strong propensity to furious anger, without giving way to it.
-out can anger and pride be in that heart, where only meek-
ness and humility are felt ?" No : but some pride and anger
may be in that heart, where there is much humility and
It avails not to say, ' These tempers are there, but they
do not reign : ' for sin cannot, in any kind or degree, exist
where it does not reign; for guilt and power are essential
properties of sin. Therefore, where one of them is, all
Strange indeed ! " Sin cannot, in any kind or degree,
exist where it does not reign?" Absolutely contrary this to
all experience, all Scripture, all common sense. Resentment
of an affront is sin ; it is avo/xla, disconformity to the law of
love. This has existed in me a thousand times. Yet it did
not, and does not, reign. — " But guilt and power are essential
properties of sin ; therefore, where one is, all must be." No:
in the instance before us, if the resentment I feel is not
yielded to, even for a moment, there is no guilt at all, no
1^0 onsinin Seeievers.
condemnation from God upon that *,coount. And in this
case, it has no power. Though it "lusteth against rthe
Spirit," it cannot prevail. Here, therefore, as in' ten thou-
sand instances, there is sin without either guilt or power.
ii. '* But the supposing sin in a believer is pregnant with
everything frightful and discouraging. It implies the con?
tending with a power that has the possession of our strength^
maintains his usurpation of our hearts ; and there, prosecutes
the war in defiance of our Redeemer." Not so : the Suppos-
ing sin is in us, does not imply that it has the possessitincof
our strength ; ' no more -than a man crucified has the possession
of those that crucify him. As little does it imply, that " sin
maintains its usurpation of our hearts." The usurper is de-
throned. He remains indeed where he once reigned ; but
remains in chains. So that he does, in some sense, " pro r
secute the war," yet he grows weaker and weaker; while
the believer goes on from strength to strength, conquering
and to conquer.
12. " I am not satisfied yet : he. that has sin in him, is a
slave to sin. Therefore you suppose a man to be justified,
while he is a slave to sin. Now, if you allow men may be
justified while they have pride, anger, or unbelief in them;;
nay, if you aver, these are (at least for a time) in all that
are justified ; what wonder that we have so many, proud,
angry, unbelieving believers ? "'
w£ I do not suppose any man who is. justified . is a slave to
■in : yet I do suppose sin remains (at least for a time>in all
rthat are justified.
" But, if sin remains in a believer, he is a sinful man : if
pride, for instance, then he is proud ; if .' self-will, then ; he is
self-willed; if unbelief, then he is an unbeliever ; conse r
quently, no believer at all. ' How then does, he differ from
unbelievers, from unregenerate men ? " This is still mere
playing upon words. It means .no more than, If there is sin,
pride, self-will in him, then— there is sin, pride, self-will.
And this 'nobody Can deny. In that sense then he is proud,
or self-willed. But he is not proud or self-willed in the same
sense that unbelievers are ; that is, governed by pride or self-
Ok sin in believers. HI
will. Herein he differs from unregenerate men. They obey
Bin ; he does not. Flesh is in them both : but they " -walk
afterthe flesh; " he "walks after the Spirit."
" But how can unbelief be in a believer ? " That word has
two meanings. It means either no faith, or little faith ; either
the absence of faith, or the weakness of it. In the former
sense unbelief is not in a believer ; in the latter, it is in all
babes. Their faith is commonly mixed with doubt or fear ;
that is, in the latter sense, with unbelief. " Why are ye
fearful," says our Lord, " O ye of little faith ? " Again : " O
thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt ? " You see
here was unbelief in believers ; little faith and much unbelief.
13. " But this doctrine, that sin remains in a believer ;
that a man may be in the favour of God, while be has sin in
his heart y certainly tends to encourage men in sin." Under-
stand the proposition right, and no such consequence follows.
A man may be in God's favour though he feel sin ; but not if
he yields to it. Saving sin does not forfeit the favour of God ;
giving way to sin does. Though the flesh in you " lust against
the Spirit," you may still be a child of God ; but if you
"walk after the flesh," you are a child of the devil. Now
this doctrine does not encourage to obey sin, but to resist it
with all our might.
V 1. The sum of all this is: there are in every person,
evenafter he is j ustified, two contrary principles, nature and
grace, termed by St. Paul, the flesh and the Spirit. Hence,
although even babes in Christ are sanctified, yet it is only
in part. In a degree, according to the measure of their faith,
they are spiritual ; yet in a degree they are carnal. Accord-
ingly, believers are continually exhorted to watch against the
flesh, as well as the world and the devil. And to this agrees
the constant experience of the children of God. While they
feel this witness in themselves, they feel a will not wholly re-
signed to the will of God. They know they are in Him ;
and yet find an heart ready to depart from Him, a proneness
to evil in many instances, and a backwardness to that which
■ is good. The contrary doctrine is wholly new ; never heard
112 ON SIN IN BELIEVERS.
of in the church of Christ, from the time of His coming
into the world, till the time of Count Zinzendorf ; and it is
attended with the most fatal consequences. It cuts off all
watching against our evil nature, against the Delilah which
we are told is gone, though she is still lying in our bosom. ,
It tears away the shield of weak believers, deprives them of
their faith, and so leaves them exposed to all the assaults of
the world, the flesh, and the devil.
2. Let us, therefore, hold fast the sound doctrine " once
delivered to the saints," and delivered down by them, with
the written word, to all succeeding generations: that,
although we are renewed, cleansed, purified, sanctified, the
moment we truly believe in Christ, yet we are not then
renewed, cleansed, purified altogether; but the flesh, the
evil nature, still remains, (though subdued,) and wars against
the Spirit. So much the more let us use all diligence in
" fighting the good fight of faith." So much the more
earnestly let us " watch and pray " against the enemy
within. The more carefully let us take to ourselves, and
" put on, the whole armour of God ; " that, although " we
wrestle " both " with flesh and blood, and with principalities,
and powers, and wicked spirits in high places," we " may
be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all,
Is the doctrine of sin in believers taught by the Church Universal ?
Yes. See Sec. I. 1, 2, 3, 4.
Do any Christian teachers carry the doctrine too far ; so as almost to
obliterate the distinction between a believer and an unbeliever 1
Yes ; " Indeed some of these seem to carry the thing too far," etc.
—Sec. I. 4.
Have any " well-meaning men" run into another extreme?
Yes. See Sec. I. 5.
What was the " German " subterfuge on this point ?
&0.SEC. I. 6.
Whence did the notion arise that justification destroys the inbeing of sin 1
See Sec. I. 7.
ON SIN IN BELIEVERS. 113
How does Wesley prove from Scripture that a child of God may have
some remaining sin ?
See Sec. III. 2, 3, 4, 5.
Can Christ and sin be in the same heart at the same time 1
" Undoubtedly."— Sec. III. 8.
What is the difference between sin in a believer, and sin in the unre-
" Christ indeed cannot reign where sin reigns," etc. — Sec. III. 8.
Who invented the doctrine that justification ensures immediate and
absolute freedom from indwelling sin 1
"Zinzendorf."— Sec. III. 9.
In what five words does Wesley state the condition of a babe in Christ ?
" Truly, yet not entirely renewed."
Then, can a man have a new heart and an old heart at the same time ?
" Yes he may," etc.
How does Wesley expose the fallacy of Zinzendorf 's reasoning on this
See Sec. IV. 3.
What is the threefold distinction as to sin in any individual 1
" The guilt is one thing, the power another, and the being yet
Can there be sin without guilt or power 1
"In ten thousand instances there is." — Sec. IV. 10.
What are the evil consequences of Zinzendorf's doctrine 1
'• It cuts off all watching against our evil nature," etc.— Sec. V. 1.
THE REPENTANCE OF BELIEVERS.
" Repent ye, and believe the Gospel." Mark i. 15.
IT is generally supposed, that repentance and faith are
only the gate of religion ; that they are necessary only at
the beginning of our Christian course, when we are setting
out in the way to the kingdom. And this may seem to be
confirmed by the great Apostle, where, exhorting the Hebrew
Christians to " go on to perfection," he teaches them to leave
these " first principles of the doctrine of Christ ; " " not
laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works,
and of faith towards God ; " which must at least mean, that
they should comparatively leave these, that at first took up
all their thoughts, in order to " press forward toward the
prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
2. And this is undoubtedly true, that there is a repentance
and a faith, which are, more especially, necessary at the
beginning : a repentance, which is a conviction of our utter
sinfulness, and guiltiness, and helplessness; and which pre-
cedes our receiving that kingdom of God, which, our Lord
observes, is " within us ; " and a faith, whereby we receive
that kingdom, even " righteousness, and peace, and joy in the
3 . But, notwithstanding this, there is also a repentance
and a faith (taking the words in another sense, a sense not
quite the same, nor yet entirely different) which are requisite
after we have " believed the Gospel ; " yea, and in every
subsequent stage of our Christian course, or we cannot " run
the race which is set before us." And this repentance and*
faith are full as necessary, in order to our continuance and
growth in grace, as the former faith and repentance were, in
order to our entering into the kingdom of God.
But in what sense are we to repent and believe, after we
*HE REPENTANCE OF BELIEVERS. 115
are justified ? This is an important question, and worthy of
being considered -with the utmost attention.
I. And, first, in what sense are we to repent ?
i. Repentance frequently means an inward change, a
change of mind from sin to holiness. But we now speak of
it in a quite different sense, as it is one kind of self-know-
ledge, the knowing ourselves sinners, yea, guilty, helpless
sinners, even though we know we are children of God.
i. Indeed when we first know this ; when we first find
redemption in the blood of Jesus ; when the love of Clod is
first shed abroad in our hearts, and His kingdom set up there-
in; it is natural to suppose that we are no longer sinners,
that all our sins are not only covered but destroyed.
As we do not then feel any evil in our hearts, we readily
imagine none is there. Nay, some well-meaning men have
imagined this not only at that time, but ever after; having
persuaded themselves, that when they were justified, they
were entirely sanctified : yea, they have laid it down as a
general rule, in spite of Scripture, reason, and experience.
These sincerely believe, and earnestly maintain, that all sin
is destroyed when we are justified; and that there is no sin
in the heart of a believer ; but that it is altogether clean
from that moment. But though we readily acknowledge,
" he that believeth is born of God," and " he that is born of
God doth not commit sin ; " yet we cannot allow that he
does not feel it within : it does not reign, but it does remain.
And a conviction of the sin which remains in our heart, is
one great branch of the repentance we are now speaking of.
s. Tor it is seldom long before he who imagined all sin
was gone, feels there is still pride in his heart. He is con-
vinced both that in many respects he has thought of himself
more highly than he ought to think, and that he has taken to
himself the praise of something he had received, and gloried
in it as though he had not received it ; and yet he knows he
is in the favour of God. He cannot, and ought not to, " cast
away his confidence." " The Spirit " still " witnesses with "
his " spirit) that he is a child of God."
il6 THE REPENTANCE OF BELIEVERS.
4. Nor is it long before he feels self-wil l in his heart ; even
a will contrary to the will of God. A will every man must
inevitably have, as long as he has an understanding. This is
an essential part of human nature, indeed of the nature of
every intelligent being. Our blessed Lord Himself had a will
as a man; otherwise He had not been a man. But His human
will was invariably subject to the will of His Father. At all
times, and on all occasions, even in the deepest affliction, He
could say, "Not as I will, but as Thou wilt." But this is not
the case at all times, even with a true believer in Christ. He
frequently finds his will more or less exalting itseH agajnst
tEaZjgDTof^Gad.^ He wills something, because it is pleasing to
nature, which is not pleasing to God ; and he nills (is averse
from) something, because it is painful to nature, which is the
will of God concerning him. Indeed, suppose he continues in
the faith, he fights against it with all his might : but this
very thing implies that it really exists, and that he is conscious
5. Now self-will, as well as pride, is a species of idolatry ;
and both are directly contrary to the love of God. The same
observation may be made concerning the love of the world.
But this likewise even true believers are liable to feel in
themselves ; and every one of them does feel it, more or less,
sooner or later, in one branch or another. It is true, when he
first " passes from death unto life," he desires nothing more
but God. He can truly say, " All my desire is unto Thee, and
unto the remembrance of Thy name : " " Whom have I in
heaven but Thee ? and there is none upon earth that I desire
beside Thee." But it is not so always. In process of time he
will feel again, though perhaps only for a few moments, either
" the desire of the flesh," or " th^ejsireofjhjejsye," or " the
pride of life." Nay, if he does not continually watch and pray,
he may find lust reviving; yea, and thrusting sore at him that
he may fall, till he has scarce any strength left in him. He
may feel the assaults of irwrdinate ajTection ; yea, a strong pro-
pensity to " lpjssjh^creature morethanTEe Creator; " whether
it be a child, a parent, a husband or wif e~or"""the friend that
is as his own soul." He may feel, in a thousand various
THE REPENTANCE OP BELIEVERS. 117
ways, a desire of earthly things or pleasures. In the same
proportion he will forget God, not seeking his happiness in
Him, and consequently being a " lover of pleasure more than
a lover of God."
6. If lie does not keep himself every moment, he will again
feel the desire of the eye; the desire of gratifying his imagination
with something great, or beautiful, or uncommon. In how
many ways does this desire assault the soul ! Perhaps with
regard to the poorest trifles, such as dress, or furniture ;
things never designed to satisfy the appetite of an immortal
spirit. Yet, how natural is it for us, even after we have
" tasted of the powers of the world to come," to sink again
into these foolish, low desires of things that perish in the using !
How hard is it, even for those who know in whom they have
believed, to conquer but one branch of the desire of the eye,
curiosity ; constantly to trample it under their feet ; to desire
nothing merely because it is new !
7. And how hard is it even for the children of God wholly
to conquer the pride of life 1 St. John seems to mean by
bhis nearly the same with what the world terms " the sense of
honour." This is no other than a desire of, and delight in,
; ' the honour that cometh of men ; " a desire and love of
praise ; and, which is always joined with it, a proportionable
r ear of dispraise. Nearly allied to this is evil shame ; the being
ishamed of that wherein we ought to glory. And this is
jeldom divided from the fear of man, which brings a thousand
snares upon the soul. Now where is he, even among those
that seem strong in faith, who does not find in himself a
degree of all these evil tempers ? So that even these are but
in part "crucified to the world ; " for the evil root still remains
in their heart. "
8. And do we not feel other tempers, which are as contrary
to the love of our neighbour as these are to the love of God ?
The love of our neighbour " thinketh no evil." Do not we
find anything of the kind ? Do we never find any jealousies,
any evil surmisings, any groundless or unreasonable suspicions ?
He that is clear in these respects, let him cast the first stone at
his neighbour. Who does not sometimes feel other tempers or
118 THE REPENTANCE OF BELIEVERS.
inward motions, which lie knows are cbntrary to brotherly
love ? If nothing of malice, hatred, or bitterness, is there no
touch of envy; particularly toward those who enjoy some real
or supposed good, which we desire > but cannot attain ? Do we
never find any degree of .resentmen t, when we are injured or
affronted; especially by those whom we peculiarly loved,, and
whom we had most laboured to help or oblige ? Does injus-
tice or ingratitude never excite in us any desire of revenge ?
any desire of returning evil for evil, instead of " overcoming
evil with good ? " This also shows, how much is still in our
heart, which is contrary to the love of our neighbour.
9 . JJove tousness, in every kind and degree, is certainly as
contrary to : EEisas to the love of God; whether QiXapyvpia, the
love of money, which is too frequently "the root of all evil;" or
vXeove&a, literally, a desire of having more, or increasing in
substance. And how few, even of "The real children of God,
are entirely free from both ! Indeed one great man, Martin
Luther, used to say, he "never had any coveteousness in him"
(not only in his converted state, but) " ever since he was
born." But, if so, I would not scruple to say, he was the only
man born of a woman, (except Him that was God as well as
man,) who had not, who was born without it Nay, I believe,
never was any one born of God, that lived any considerable
time after, who did not feel more or less of it many times,
especially in the latter sense. "We may therefore set it down
as an undoubted truth, that covetousness, together with pride,
and self-will, and anger, remain in the hearts even of them
that are justified.
10. It is their experiencing this, which has inclined so
many serious persons to understand the latter part of the
seventh chapter to the. Romans, not of them that are " under
the law," that are convinced of sin, which is undoubtedly the
meaning of the Apostle, but of them that are "under grace;"
that are. "justified freely through the redemption that is in
Christ." And it is most certain, they are thus far right :
there does still remain, even in them that are justified, a mind
wh^ch is in some, measure carMaf; (so the Apostle tells even
the believers at Corinth, " Te are carnal ; ") an heart bent to
THE REPENTANCE OP BELIEVERS. 119
lachsliding, still ever ready to " depart from the living God ; "
a propensity to pride, self-will, anger, revenge, love of the
World, yea, and all evil : a root of bitterness, which, if the
restraint were taken off for a moment, would instantly spring
up ; yea, such a depth of corruption, as, without clear light
from God, we cannot possibly conceive. And a conviction of
all this sin remaining in. their hearts is the repentance which
belongs to them that are justified.
ir. But we should likewise be convinced, that as sin
remains in our hearts, so it cleaves to all our words and ac-
tions. Indeed it is to be feared, that many of our words are
more than mixed with sin ; that they are sinful altogether ;
for such undoubtedly is all uncharitable conversation ; all which
does not spring from brotherly love ; all which does not agree
with that golden rule, " What ye would that others should do
to you, even so do unto them." Of this kind is all backbiting,
all tale-bearing, all whispering, all evil-speaking, that is, re-
peating the faults of absent persons ; for none would have
others repeat his faults when he is absent. Now how few
are there, even among believers, who are in no degree guilty
of ihis ; who steadily observe the good old rule, " Of the dead
and the absent, — nothing but good ! " And suppose they do,
do they likewise abstain from unprofitable cmiwrxation ? Yet
all this is unquestionably sinful, and " grieves the Holy Spirit
of God : " yea, and " for every idle word that men shall speak,
they shall give an account in the day of judgment."
12. But let it be supposed, that they continually " watch
and pray," and so do " not enter into " this " temptation ; "
that they constantly set a watch before their mouth, and keep
the door of their lips; suppose they exercise themselves
herein, that all their " conversation may be in grace, seasoned
with salt, and meet to minister grace to the hearers : " yet do
; they not daily slide into useless discourse, notwithstanding all
their caution ? And even when they endeavour to speak for
God, are their words pure, free from unholy mixtures ? Do
they find nothing wrong in their very intention ? Do they
speak merely to please God, and not partly to please them-
selves ? Is it wholly to do the will of God, and not their own
120 THE REPENTANCE- OF BELIEVEES.
•will also ? Or, if they begin with a single eye, do they go on
" looking unto Jesus," and talking with Him all the time they
are talking with their neighbour ? When they are reproving
sin, do they feel no anger or unkind temper to the sinner ?
When they are instructing the ignorant, do they not find any
pride, any self -preference ? When they are comforting the
afflicted, or provoking one another to love and to good works,
do they never perceive any inward self-commendation : " Now
you have spoke well ? " Or any vanity, — a desire that others
should think so, and esteem them on the account ? In some
or all of these respects, how much sin cleaves to the best
conversation even of believers ! The conviction of which is
another branch of the repentance which belongs to them that
13. And how much sin, if their conscience is throughly
awake, may they find cleaving to their actions also ! Nay, are
there not many of these, which, though they are such as the
world would not condemn, yet cannot be commended, no, nor
excused, if we judge by the word of God ? Are there not
many of their actions which, they themselves know, are not to
the glory of God ? many, wherein they did not even aim at
this ; which were not undertaken with an eye to God ? And
of those that were, are there not many, wherein their eye is
not singly fixed on God ? wherein they are doing their own
will, at least as much as His ; and seeking to please themselves
as much, if not more than to please God ? — And while they
are endeavouring to do good to their neighbour, do they not
feel wrong tempers of various kinds ? Hence their good
actions, so called, are far from being strictly such ; being
polluted with such a mixture of evil : such are their works of
mercy. And is there not the same mixture in their works of
piety ? While they are hearing the word which is able to save
their souls, do they not frequently find such thoughts as make
them afraid lest it should turn to their condemnation, rather
lhan their salvation ? Is it not often the same case, while
Ihey are endeavouring to offer up their prayers to God,
Ivhether in public or private ? Nay, while they are engaged
Jn the most solemn service, even while they are at the table of
THE REPENTANCE OP BELIEVERS. 121
the Lord, what maimer of thoughts arise in them! Are not
their hearts sometimes wandering to the ends of the earth ;
sometimes filled with such imaginations, as make them fear
lest all their sacrifice should be an abomination to the Lord ?
So that they are now more ashamed of their best duties, than
they were once of their worst sins.
14. Again : how many sins of omission are they chargeable
with ! We know the words of the Apostle : " To him that
knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin." But
do they not know a thousand instances, wherein they might
have done good, to enemies, to strangers, to their brethren,
either with regard to their bodies or their souls, and they
did it not ? How many omissions have they been guilty of,
in their duty toward God ! How many opportunities of com-
municating, of hearing His word, of public or private pi-ayer,
have they neglected ! So great reason had even that holy
man, Archbishop Usher, after all his labours for God, to cry
but, almost with his dying breath, " Lord, forgive me my sins
of omission ! "
1$. But besides these outward omissions, may they not
find in themselves inward defects without number ? defects of
every kind : they have not the love, the fear, the confidence
they ought to have, toward God. They have not the love
which is due to their neighbour, to every child of man ; no,
nor even that which is due to their brethren, to every child of
God, whether those that are at a distance from them, or those
with whom they are immediately connected. They have no
holy temper in the degree they ought ; they are defective m
everything ; — in a deep consciousness of which they are ready
to cry out, with M. De Renty, "lama ground all overrun
with thorns ; " or, with Job, " I am vile : I abhor myself,
and repent as in dust and ashes."
16. A conviction of their guiltiness is another branch of
that repentance which belongs to the children of God. But
this is cautiously to be understood, and in a peculiar sense.
For it is certain, " there is no condemnation to them that are
in Christ Jesus," that believe in Him, and, in the power of
that faith, " walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit;"
122 THE REPENTANCE OF BELIEVERS.
Yet can they no more bear the strict justice of God now, than
before they believed. This prononnces them to be still worthy
of death, on all the preceding accounts. And it would abso-
lutely condemn them thereto, were it not for the atoning
blood. Therefore they are thoroughly convinced, that they
still deserve punishment, although it is hereby turned aside
from them. But here there are extremes on one hand and on
the other, and few steer clear of them. Most men strike on
one or the other, either thinking themselves condemned whep.
they are not, or thinking they deserve to be acquitted. Nay,
the truth lies between : they still deserve, strictly speaking,
only the' damnation of hell. But what they deserve does not
come upon them, because they "have an Advocate with the
Father." His life, and death, and intercession still interpose
between them and condemnation.
17. A conviction of their utter helplessness is yet another
branch of this repentance. I mean hereby two things : first,
that they are no more able now of themselves to think one
»good thought, to form one good desire, to speak one good
word, or do one good work, than before they were justified ;
that they have still no kind or degree of strength of their
own; no power either to do good, or resist evil ; no ability to
conquer or even withstand the world, the devil, or their own
evil nature. They can, it is certain, do all these things ; but
it is not by their own strength. They have power to
overcome all these enemies ; for " sin hath no more dominion
over them : " but it is not from nature, either in whole or
in part ; it is the mere gift of God : nor is it given all at
once, as if they had a stock laid up for many years ; but
from moment to moment.
18. By this helplessness I mean, secondly, an absolute
inability to deliver ourselves from that guiltiness or desert
of punishment whereof we are still conscious ; yea, and an
inability to remove, by all the grace we have, (to say nothing
Of our natural powers,) either the pride, self-will, love of the
world, anger, and general proneness to depart, from God
-which we experimentally know to remain in the heart, even
||ihem that are regenerate ; or the evii which, in spite of all
THE REPENTANCE OF BELIEVERS. 123
our endeavours, cleaves to all our words and actions. Add to
this, an utter inability wholly to avoid uncharitable, and,
much, more, unprofitable, conversation : and an inability to
avoid sins of omission, or to supply the numberless defects
we are convinced of ; especially the want of love, and other
right tempers both to God and man.
19. If any man is not satisfied of this, if any believes that
whoever is justified is able to remove these sins out of his
heart and life, let him make the experiment. Let him try
whether, by the grace he has already received, he can expel
"pride, self-will, or inbred sin in general. Let him try whether
he can cleanse his words and actions from all mixture of evil ;
whether he can avoid all uncharitable and unprofitable con-
versation, with all the sins of omission ; and, lastly, whether
he can supply the numberless defects which he still finds in
himself. Let him not be discouraged by one or two experi-
ments, but repeat the trial again and again ; and the longer
he tries, the more deeply will he be convinced of his utter
'helplessness in all these respects.
20. Indeed this is so evident a truth, that well nigh all the
children of God, scattered abroad, however they differ in
other points, yet generally agree in this ; — that although we
may, " by the Spirit, mortify the deeds of the body ; " resist
and conquer both outward and inward sin ; although we may
weaken our enemies day by day ; yet we cannot drive them out.
By all the grace which is given at justification we cannot
extirpate them. Though we watch and pray ever so much,
we cannot wholly cleanse either our hearts or hands. Most
sure we cannot, till it shall please our Lord to speak to our
hearts again, to speak the second time, "Be clean :" and then
only the leprosy is cleansed. Then only, the evil root, tho
carnal mind, is destroyed ; and inbred sin subsists no more.
But if there be no such second change, if there be no instan-
taneous deliverance after justification, if there be none but a
gradual work of God, (that there is a gradual work none
denies,) then we must be content, as well as we can, to remain
full of sin till death ; and, if so, we must remain guilty till
death, continually deserving punishment. For it is impossible
124 THE REPENTANCE OF BELIEVEBS.
the guilfc, or desert of punishment, should he removed from
us, as long as all this sin remains in our heart, and cleaves to
our words and actions. Nay, in rigorous justice, all we think,
and speak, and act, continually increases it.
II. i. In this sense we are to repent, after we are justified.
And till we do so, we can go no farther. For, till we are sen-
sible of our disease, it admits of no cure. But, supposing we
do thus repent, then are we called to " believe the Gospel."
2. And this also is to be understood in a peculiar sense,
different from that wherein we believed in order to justifi-
cation. Believe the glad tidings of great salvation, which
God hath prepared for all people. Believe that He who is
" the brightness of His Father's glory, the express image of
His person," is " able to save unto the uttermost all that
come unto God through Him." He is able to save you from
all the sin that still remains in your heart. He is able to
save you from all the sin that cleaves to all your words and
actions. He is able to save you from sins of omission, and
to supply whatever is wanting in you. It is true, this is
impossible with man ; but with God-Man all things are pos-
sible. For what can be too hard for Him who hath " all
power in heaven and in earth ? " Indeed His bare power to
do this is not a sufficient foundation for our faith that He will
do it, that He will thus exert His power, unless He hath pro-
mised it. But this He has done : He has promised it over and
over, in the strongest terms. He has given us these " exceed-
ing great and precious promises," both in the Old and the
New Testament. So we read in the law, in the most ancient
part of the oracles of God, " The Lord thy God will circum-
cise thy heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy
God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul." (Deut. xxx-
6.) So in the Psalms, " He shall redeem Israel," the Israel
of God, " from all his sins." So in the Prophet, " Then will
I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean : from
all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.
And I will put My Spirit within you, and ye shall keep My
judgments, and do them. I will also save you from all your
THE REPENTANCE OF BELIEVERS. 125
uncleannesses." (Ezek. xxxvi. 25, &c.) So likewise in the
New Testament, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel ; for He
hath visited and redeemed His people, and hath raised up an
horn of salvation for us, — to perform the oath which He sware
to our father Abraham, that He would grant unto us, that we
being delivered out of the hands of our enemies should serve
Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him,
all the days of our life." (Luke i. 68, <fec.)
3. You have therefore good reason to believe, He is not
only able, but willing to do this ; to cleanse you from all
your filthiness of flesh and spirit : to " save you from all your
uncleannesses." This is the thing which you now long for ;
this is the faith which you now particularly need, namely, that
the Great Physician, the lover of my soul, is willing to make
me clean. But is He willing to do this to-morrow, or to-day ?
Let Him answer for Himself : " To-day, if ye will hear " My
"voice, harden not your hearts." If you put it off till to-
morrow, you harden your hearts ; you refuse to hear His voice.
Believe, therefore, that He is willing to save you to-day. He
is willing to save you now. " Behold, now is the accepted
time." He now saith, " Be thou clean ! " Only believe, and
you also will immediately find, " all things are possible to him
4. Continue to believe in Him that loved thee, and gave
Himself for thee ; that bore all thy sins in His own body on the
tree ; and He saveth thee from all condemnation, by His blood
continually applied. Thus it is that we continue in a justified
state. And when we go on "from faith to faith," when we
have faith to be cleansed from indwelling sin, to be saved
from all our uncleannesses, we are likewise saved from all
that guilt, that desert of punishment, which we felt before.
So that then we may say, not only,
" Every moment, Lord, 1 want
The merit of Thy death ; "
but, likewise, in the full assurance of faith,
" Every moment, Lord, I have
The merit of Thy death I "
126 THE REPENTANCE OF BELIEVER,
For, by that faith, in His life, death, and intercessioniop. ua fl
renewed from moment to moment, we are every whitj clean
and there is not only now no condemnation for ns, but^ncj
snch desert of punishment as was before, the Lord cleansing,
both our hearts and lives.
5. By the same faith we feel the power of Christ every,
moment resting upon, us, whereby alone we are what we are ;
whereby we are enabled to continue in spiritual life, and
without which, notwithstanding all our present holiness, we
should be devils the next moment. But as long as we retain,
our faith in Him, we " draw water out of the wells of salya 7
tion." Leaning on our Beloved, even Christ in us the hope
of glory, who dwelleth in our hearts by faith, who likewise is
ever interceding for us at the right hand of God, we receive
help from Him, to think, and speak, and act, what is accept,
able in His sight. Thus does He " prevent " them that beljievej
in all their " doings, and further them with His continual
help;" so that all their designs, conversations, and actions
are " begun, continued, and ended in Him." Thus doth He
v ' cleanse the thoughts of their hearts, by the inspiration of
His Holy Spirit, that they may perfectly love Him, and
worthily magnify His holy name."
6. Thus it is, that in the children of God, repentance and
faith exactly answer each other. By repentance we feel the
sin remaining in our hearts, and cleaving to our words and
actions : by faith, we receive the power of God in Christ,
purifying our hearts, and cleansing our hands. By repent-
ance, we are still sensible that wes deserve punishment for all
our tempers, and words and actions : by faith, we are conscious
that our Advocate with the Father is continually pleading f 01
us, and thereby continually turning aside all condemnation
and punishment from us. By repentance we have an abiding
conviction that there is no help in us : by faith we receive nol
only mercy, "but grace to help in" evety "time of need.'
Repentance disclaims the very possibility of any other help
faith accepts all the help we stand in need of, from Him
that hath all power in heaven and earth. Repentance says,
" Without Him I can do nothing : " faith says, " I can do all
THE REPENTANCE OF BELIEVERS. 127
things through Christ strengthening me." Through Him I
can riot only overcome, but expel, all the enemies of my soul.
Through Him I can "love the Lord my God with all my
heart, mind, soul, and strength ; " yea, and " walk in holiness
and righteousness before Him all the days of my life."
HI. l. From what has been said we may easily learn the
mischievousness of that opinion, — that we are wholly Sanctis
fied when we are justified ; that our hearts are then cleansed
from all sin. It is true, we are then delivered, as was observed
Before, from the dominion of outward sin ; and, at the . same
time, the power of inward sin is so broken, that we need no
longer follow, or be led by, it: but it is by no means true,
that inward sin is then totally destroyed ; that the root of
pride, self-will, anger, love of the world, is then taken, out of
the heart ; or that the carnal mind, and the heart bent to
backsliding, are entirely extirpated. And to suppose the
contrary is not, as some may think, an innocent harmless mis-
take. No : it does immense harm : it entirely blocks up the
way to any farther change ; for it is manifest, " they that
are whole need not a Physician, but they that are sick." If,
therefore, we think we are quite made whole already, there is
no room to seek any farther healing. On this supposition it
iS absurd to expect a farther deliverance from sin, whether
gradual or instantaneous.
a. On the contrary, a deep conviction that we are not yet
whole; that our hearts are not fully purified ; that there is
yet in us a "carnal mind," which is still in its nature "enmity
against God ; " that a whole body of sin remains in our heart,
weakened indeed, but not destroyed ; shows, beyond all pos-
sibility of doubt, the absolute necessity of a farther change.
We allow, that at the very moment of justification, we are
lorn again : in that instant we experience that inward change
from " darkness into marvellous light ; " from the image of
the brute and the devil, into the image of God ; from the
earthly, sensual, devilish mind, to the mind which was in
Christ Jesus. But are we then entirely changed ? Are we
wholly transformed into the image of Him that created us ?
128 THE REPENTANCE OP BELIEVERS.
Far from it : we still retain a depth of sin ; and it is the
consciousness of this which constrains us to groan, for a full
deliverance, to Him that is mighty to save. Hence it is,
that those believers who are not convinced of the deep cor-
ruption of their hearts, or but slightly, and, as it were,
notionally convinced, have little concern about entire sancti-
fication. They may possibly hold the opinion, that such a
thing is to be, either at death, or some time they know not
when, before it. But they have no great uneasiness for the
want of it, and no great hunger or thirst after it. They
cannot, until they know themselves better, until they repent
in the sense above described, until God unveils the inbred
monster's face, and shows them the real state of their souls.
Then only, when they feel the burden, will they groan for de-
liverance from it. Then, and not till then, will they cry out,
in the agony of their soul,
" Break off the yoke of inbred sin,
And fully set my spirit free 1
I cannot rest till pure within,
Till I am wholly lost in Thee."
3. We may learn from hence, secondly, that a deep con-
viction of our demerit, after we are accepted, (which in one
sense may be termed guilt,) is absolutely necessary, in order,
to our seeing the true value of the atoning blood ; in order to
our feeling that we need this as much, after we are justified,
as ever we did before. Without this conviction, we cannot
but account the blood of the covenant as a common thing,
something of which we have not now any great need, seeing
all our past sins are blotted out. Tea, but if both our hearts
and lives are thus unclean, there is a kind of guilt which we
are contracting every moment, and which, of consequence,
would every moment expose us to fresh condemnation, but
" He ever lives above,
For us to intercede, —
His all-atoning love,
His precious blood, to plead."
THE REPENTANCE OF BELIEVERS. 129
It is this repentance, and the faith intimately connected with
it, which are expressed in those strong lines, —
" I sin in every breath I draw,
Nor do Thy will, not keep Thy law
On earth, as angels do above :
But still the fountain open stands,
Washes my feet, my heart, my hands,
Till I am perfected in love."
4. We may observe, thirdly, a deep conviction of onr utter
helplessness, of our total inability to retain anything we have
received, much more to deliver ourselves from the world of
iniquity remaining both in our hearts and lives, teaches us
truly to live upon Christ by faith, not only as our Priest, but
as our King. Hereby we are brought to " magnify Him,"
indeed ; to " give Him all the glory of His grace; " to " make
Him a whole Christ, an entire Saviour ; and truly to set the
crown upon His head." These excellent words, as they have
frequently been used, have little or no meaning; but they are
fulfilled in a strong and deep sense, when we thus, as it were,
go out of ourselves, in order to be swallowed up in Him ;
when we sink into nothing, that He may be all in all. Then,
His almighty grace having abolished " every high thing
which exalted itself against Him," every temper, and
thought, and word, and work " is brought to the obedience
Londonderry, April 24, 1767.
Does sin remain altogether powerless in the justified soul ; without afc
all affecting his actions or words.
" As sin remains in our hearts, so it cleaves to all our words an<l
actions," etc. — Sec. I. 11.
Is the intention of a justified person always pure ?
No. Sec 1. 12.
What is Wesley's summary description of the repentance of believers ?
"They are now more ashamed of their best duties than they
were once of their worst sins."
130 THE REPENTANCE OF BELIEVEftS.
What is implied in the repentance of believers 1 What are its elements ?
See Sec. 1. 16, 17, 18.
Is it possible that the very being of sin should be destroyed 1 Have we
Scripture-warrant to pray that it may, and to expect that it shall 1
Assuredly. Sec. II. 2, 3.
Meanwhile, what conies between the believer and condemnation, undei
the sense of conscious desert of punishment 1
" The merit of Christ's death."— Sec. II. 1.
What especial practical deduction does Wesley make from the fact of
sin in, and the repentance of, believers 1
" The absolute necessity of a further change."
What does indifference " about entire sanctification " indicate ?
Imperfect conviction of the " deep corruption " of the heart. — Sec.
What further incalculable evil results from insensibility to the strength
of corruption within us even after justification 1
Depreciation of the blood of Christ, and of His intercession. — Sec.
UPON OUR LORD'S SERMON ON THE
" Blessed are the meek : for they shall inherit the earth.
" Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness :
for they shall be filled.
" Blessed are the merciful : for they shall obtain mercy."
Matt. v. 5 — 7.
II. WHEN "the winter is past," when "the time of
. singing is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard
in the land ; " when He that comforts the mourners is now
returned, " that He may abide with them for ever ; " when,
at the brightness of His presence, the clouds disperse, the
dark clouds of doubt and uncertainty, the storms of fear flee
away, the waves of sorrow subside, and their spirit again
rejoiceth in God their Saviour ; then is it that this word is
eminently fulfilled ; then those whom He hath comforted can
bear witness, " Blessed," or happy, " are the meek ; for they
shall inherit the earth."
2. But who are " the meek ? " Not those who grieve at
nothing, because they know nothing; who are not discom-
posed at the evils that occur, because they discern not evil
from good. Not those who are sheltered from the shocke
of life by a stupid insensibility ; who have, either by nature
or art, the virtue of stocks and stones, and resent nothing,
because they feel nothing. Brute philosophers are wholly
Unconcerned in this matter. Apathy is as far from meekness
as from humanity. So that one would not easily conceive
how any Christians of the purer ages, especially any of the
Fathers of the Church, could confound these, and mistake
132 SEEMON ON THE MOUNT.
one of the foulest errors of Heathenism for a branch of true
3. Nor does Christian meekness imply, the being without
zeal for God, any more than it does ignorance or insensibility.
T$o ; it keeps clear of every extreme, whether in excess or
defect. It does not destroy but balance the affections, which
the God of nature never designed should be rooted out by grace,
but only brought and kept under due regulations. It poises
the mind aright. It holds an even scale, with regard to anger,
and sorrow, and fear ; preserving the mean in every circum-
stance of life, and not declining either to the right hand or
4. Meekness, therefore, seems properly to relate to our-
selves : but it may be referred either to God or our neigh-
bour. When this due composure of mind has reference to
God, it is usually termed "resignation;" a calm acquiescence
in whatsoever is His will concerning us, even though it may
not be pleasing to nature ; saying continually, " It is the
Lord ; let Him do what seemeth Him good." When we
consider it more strictly with regard to ourselves, we style
it "patience " or " eontentedness." When it is exerted toward
other men, then it is " mildness " to the good, and " gentle-
ness " to the evil.
5. They who are truly meek can clearly discern what is
evil ; and they can also suffer it. They are sensible of every-
thing of this kind, but still meekness holds the reins. They
are exceeding " zealous for the Lord of Hosts ; " but their zeal
is always guidedby knowledge, and tempered, in every thought,
and word, and work, with the love of man, as well as the love
of God. They do not desire to extinguish any of the passions
which God has for wise ends implanted in their nature ; but
they have the mastery of all : they hold them all in subjection,
and employ them only in subservience to those ends. And
thus even the harsher and more unpleasing passions are
applicable to the noblest purposes ; even hatred, and anger,
and fear, when engaged against sin, and regulated by faith
and love, are as walls and bulwarks to the soul, so that the
wicked one cannot approach to hurt it.
SERMON ON THE MOUNT. 133
6. It is evident, this divine temper is not only to abide
but to increase in us day by day. Occasions of exercising, and
thereby increasing it, will never be wanting while we remain
upon earth. " We have need of patience, that after we have
done " and suffered " the will of God, we may receive the pro-
mise." We have need of resignation, that we may in all cir-
cumstances say, " Not as I will, but as Thou wilt." And we
have need of " gentleness toward all men ; " but especially
toward the evil and unthankful : otherwise we shall be over-
come of evil, instead of overcoming evil with good.
7. Nor does meekness restrain only the outward act, as
the Scribes and Pharisees taught of old, and the miserable
Teachers who are not taught of God will not fail to do in all
ages. Our Lord guards against this, and shows the true
extent of it, in the following woi'ds : " Ye have heard that
it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill ; and
whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment : "
(Matt. v. 21, &c. :) " But I say unto you, That whosoever is
angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of
the judgment : and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca,
shall be in danger of the council : but whosoever shall say,
Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell-fire."
8. Our Lord here ranks under the head of murder, even
that anger which goes no farther than the heart ; which does
not show itself by any outward unkindness, no, not so much
as a passionate word. " Whosoever is angry with his brother,"
with any man living, seeing we are all brethren ; whosoever
feels any unkindness in his heart, any temper contrary to love ;
whosoever is angry without a cause, without a sufficient cause,
or farther than that cause requires, "shall be in danger of the
judgment ; " evoxoe t'orat ; shall, in that moment, be obnoxious
to the righteous judgment of God.
But would not one be inclined to prefer the reading of
those copies which omit the word titer}, without a cause ? la
it not entirely superfluous ? For if anger at persons be a
temper contrary to love, how can there be a cause, a suffi-
cient cause for it, — any that will justify it in the sight of
134 SERMON ON THE MOUNT.
Anger at sin we allow. In this sense we may be angry,
and yet we sin not. In this sense onr Lord Himself is once
recorded to have been angry : " He looked ronnd about upon
them with anger, being grievedfor the hardness of their hearts."
H« was grieved at the sinners, and angry at the sin. And
this is undoubtedly right before God.
9. " And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca;" —
whosoever shall give way to anger, so as to utter any con-
temptuous word. It is observed by commentators, that Raca
is a Syriac word, which properly signifies, empty, vain, foolish;
so that it is as inoffensive an expression as can well be used,.
toward one at whom we are displeased. And yet, whosoever
shall use this, as our Lord assures us, " shall be in danger
of the council ; " rather, shall be obnoxious thereto : he shall
be liable to a severer sentence from the Judge of all the
" But whosoever shall say, Thou fool ; " — whosoever shall
«o give place to the devil, as to break out into reviling, into
designedly reproachful and contumelious language, " shall be
obnoxious to hell-fire ; " shall, in that instant, be liable to the
highest condemnation. It should be observed, that our Lord
describes all these as obnoxious to capital punishment. The
first, to strangling, usually inflicted on those who were con-
demned in one of the inferior courts ; the second, to stoning,
which was frequently inflicted on those who were condemned
by the great Council of Jerusalem ; the third, to burning alive,
inflicted only on the highest offenders, in the " valley of the
sons of Hinnom ; " Fal 'Evybfi, from which that word is evi-
dently taken which we translate " hell."
10. And whereas men naturally imagine, that God will
excuse their defect in some duties, for their exactness in
others ; our Lord next takes care to cut off that vain, though
common imagination. He shows, that it is impossible for any
sinner to commute with God ; who will not accept one duty
for another, nor take a part of obedience for the whole. He
warns us, that the performing our duty to God will not excuse
us from our duty to our neighbour; that works of piety, as they
are called, will be so far from commending us to God, if we
SERMON ON THE MOUNT. 135
are -wanting in charity, that, on the contrary, that want of
charity will make all those works an abomination to the
" Therefore, if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there
rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee," — on
account of thy unkind behaviour toward him, of thy calling
him, " Raca," or, " Thou fool ; " think not that thy gift will
atone for thy anger ; or that it will find any acceptance with
God, so long as thy conscience is defiled with the guilt of
nnrepented sin. " Leave there thy gift before the altar, and
go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother," (at least do
all that in thee lies toward being reconciled,) " and then come
and offer thy gift." (Matt. v. 23, 24.)
1 i . And let there be no delay in what so nearly concern-
eth thy soul. " Agree with thine adversary quickly ; " — now;
upon the spot ; " whiles thou art in the way with him ; " if it
be possible, before he go out of thy sight ; " lest at any time
the adversary deliver thee to the judge ; " lest he appeal to
God the Judge of all ; " and the judge deliver thee to the
officer," to Satan, the executioner of the wrath of God; "and
thou be cast into prison," into hell, there to be reserved to the
judgment of the great day. " Verily I say unto thee, Thou
shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the
uttermost farthing." But this it is impossible for thee ever
to do : seeing thou hast nothing to pay. Therefore, if thou
art once in that prison, the smoke of thy torment must
" ascend up for ever and ever."
ia. Meantime "the meek shall inherit the earth." Such
is the foolishness of worldly wisdom ! The wise of the world
had warned them again and again, — that if they did not
resent such treatment, if they would tamely suffer themselves
to be thus abused, there would be no living for them upon
earth ; that they would never be able to procure the common
necessaries of life, nor to keep even what they had ; that they
could expect no peace, no quiet possession, no enjoyment of
anything. Most true, — suppose there were no God in the
world ; or suppose He did not concern Himself with the chil-
dren of men: but, " when God ariseth to judgment, and to
136 SERMON ON THE MOUNT.
help all the meek upon earth," how doth He laugh all this
heathen wisdom to scorn, and turn the " fierceness of man
to His praise ! " He takes a peculiar care to provide them with
all things needful for life and godliness ; He secures to them
the provision He hath made, in spite of the force, fraud, or
malice of men ; and what He secures He gives them richly
to enjoy. It is sweet to them, be it little or much. As in
patience they possess their souls, so they truly possess what-
ever God hath given them. They are always content,
always pleased with what they have : it pleases them, be-
cause it pleases God : so that while their heart, their desire,
their joy is in heaven, they may truly be said to " inherit
j 3. But there seems to be a yet farther meaning in these
words, even that they shall have a more eminent part in "the
new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness ; " in that inherit-
ance, a general description of which (and the particulars we
shall know hereafter) St. John hath given in the twentieth
chapter of the Revelation : " And I saw an angel come down
from heaven, — and he laid hold on the dragon; that old ser-
pent, — and bound him a thousand years. — And I saw the souls
of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for
the word of God, and of them which had not worshipped the
beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon
their foreheads, or in their hands ; and they lived and reigned
with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived
not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the
first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in
the first resurrection : on such the second death hath no
power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and
shall reign with Him a thousand years."
II. 1. Our Lord has hitherto been more immediately em-
ployed in removing the hinderances of true religion : such is
pride, the first grand hinderance of all religion, which is
taken away by poverty of spirit ; levity and thoughtlessness,
which prevent any religion from taking root in the soul till
they are removed by holy mourning : such are anger, impa-
SERMON ON THE MOUNT. 137
tience, discontent, which are all healed by Christian meekness
And when once these hinderances are removed, these evil
diseases of the soul, which were continually raising false
cravings therein, and filling it with sickly appetites, the
native appetite of a heaven-born spirit returns ; it hungers
and thirsts after righteousness : and "blessed are they which
do hunger and thirst after righteousness : for they shall be
2. Righteousness, as was observed before, is the image of
God, the mind which was in Christ Jesus. It is every holy
and heavenly temper in one ; springing from, as well as ter-
minating in, the love of God, as our Father and Redeemer,
and the love of all men for His sake.
3. "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after"
this : in order fully to understand which expression, we should
observe, first, that hunger and thirst are the strongest of all
our bodily appetites. In like manner this hunger in the soul,
this thirst after the image of God, is the strongest of all our
spiritual appetites, when it is once awakened in the heart ;
yea, it swallows up all the rest in that one great desire, — to be
renewed after the likeness of Him that created us. We
should, secondly, observe, that from the time we begin to
hunger and thirst, those appetites do not cease, but are more
and more craving and importunate, till we either eat and
drink, or die. And even so, from the time that we begin to
hunger and thirst after the whole mind which was in Christ,
these spiritual appetites do not cease, but cry after their food
with more and more importunity ; nor can they possibly cease,
before they are satisfied, while there is any spiritual life re-
maining. We may, thirdly, observe, that hunger and thirst
are satisfied with nothing but meat and drink. If you would
give to him that is hungry all the world beside, all the elegance
of apparel, all the trappings of state, all the treasure upon
earth, yea, thousands of gold and silver ; if you would pay
him ever so much honour ; — he regards it not : all these things
are then of no account with him. He would still say, " These
are not the things I want : give me food, or else I die." The
very same is the case with every soul that truly hungers a»d
138 SERMON ON THE MOUNT.
thirsts after righteousness. He can find no comfort in any-
thing but this : he can be satisfied with nothing else. What-
ever you offer besides, it is lightly esteemed : whether it he
riches, or honour, or pleasure, he still says, " This is not the
thing which I want ! Give me love, or else I die ! "
4. And it is as impossible to satisfy such a soul, a soul
that is athirst for God, the living God, with what the world
accounts religion, as with what they account happiness. The
religion of the world implies three things 4 (1.) The doing no
harm, the abstaining from outward sin ; at least from such
as is scandalous, as robbery, theft, common swearing, drunken-
ness : (2.) The doing good, the relieving the poor ; the being
charitable, as it is called : (3.) The using the means of grace.:
at least the going to church and to the Lord's supper. He in
whom these three marks are found is termed by the world " a
religious man." But will this satisfy him who hungers after
God ? No : it is not food for his soul. He wants a religion of
a nobler kind, a religion higher and deeper than this. He
can no more feed on this poor, shallow, formal thing, than he
can " fill his belly with the east wind." True, he is careful-
to abstain from the very appearance of evil ; he is zealous of
good works ; he attends all the ordinances of God : but all
this is not what he longs for. This is only the outside of
that religion which he insatiably hungers after. The know?;
ledge of God in Christ Jesus ; " the life which is hid with
Christ in God ; " the being " joined unto the Lord in one
spirit;" the having "fellowship with the Father and the
Son; " the " walking in the light as God is in the light ; "
the being " purified even as He is pure ; " — -this is the religion,
the righteousness he thirsts after ; nor can he rest, till he
thus rests in God.
5. " Blessed are they who " thus " hunger and thirst after
righteousness; for they shall be filled." They shall be
filled with the things which they long for ; even with right-
eousness and true holiness. God shall satisfy them with the
blessings of His goodness, with the felicity of His chosen.
He shall feed them with the bread of heaven, with the manna
pf His love. He shall give them to drink of His pleasures.
SERMON ON THE MOUNT. 139
as out of the river, -which he that drinketh of shall never
thirst, only for more and more of the water of life. This
thirst shall endure for ever.
" The painful thirst, the fond desire,
Thy joyous presence shall remove :
But my full soul shall still require
A whole eternity of love."
6. Whosoever then thou art, to whom God hath given to
" hunger and thirst after righteousness," cry unto Him that
thou mayest never lose that inestimable gift, — that this
divine appetite may never cease. If many rebuke thee, and
bid thee hold thy peace, regard them not ; yea, cry so much
the more, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on me ! " "Let me
not live, but to be holy as Thou art holy ! " No more " spend
thy money for that which is not bread, nor thy labour for
that which satisfieth not." Canst thou hope to dig happi-
ness out of the earth, — to find it in the things of the world ?
trample under foot all its pleasures, despise its honours,
count its riches as dung and dross, — yea, and all the things
which are beneath the sun, — " for the excellency of the know-
ledge of Christ Jesus," for the entire renewal of thy soul in
that image of God wherein it was originally created. Beware
of quenching that blessed hunger and thirst, by what the
world calls " religion; " a religion of form, of outside show,
which leaves the heart as earthly and sensual as ever. Let
nothing satisfy thee but the power of godliness, but a religion
that is spirit and life ; thy dwelling in God, and God in thee,
— the being an inhabitant of eternity ; the entering in by
the blood of sprinkling "within the veil," and sitting "in
heavenly places with Christ Jesus."
III. i . And the more they are filled with the life of God,
the more tenderly will they be concerned for those who are
still without God in the world, still dead in trespasses and
sins. Nor shall this concern for others lose its rewai-d.
" Blessed are the merciful : for they shall obtain mercy."
The word used by our Lord more immediately implies
140 SERMON ON THE MOTTNT.
the compassionate, the tender-hearted ; those who, far from
despising, earnestly grieve for, those that do not hunger
This eminent part of brotherly love is here, by a common
figure, put for the whole ; so that "the merciful," in the full
sense of the term, are they who love their neighbours as
2. Because of the vast importance of this love, — without
which, " though we spake with the tongues of men and
angels, though we had the gift of prophecy, and understood
all mysteries, and all knowledge ; though we had all faith, so
as to remove mountains ; yea, though we gave all our goods
to feed the poor, and our very bodies to be burned, it would
profit us nothing," — the wisdom of God has given us, by the
Apostle Paul, a full and particular account of it ; by con-
sidering which we shall most clearly discern who are the
merciful that shall obtain mercy.
3. "Charity," or love, (as it were to be wished it had
been rendered throughout, being a far plainer and less am-
biguous word,) the love of our neighbour as Christ hath loved
us, " suffereth long ; " is patient toward all men : it suffers
all the weakness, ignorance, errors, infirmities, all the fro-
wardness and littleness of faith, of the children of God ; all
the malice and wickedness of the children of the world. And
it suffers all this, not only for a time, for a short season, but
to the end ; still feeding our enemy when he hungers ; if he
thirst, still giving him drink ; thus continually " heaping
coals of fire," of melting love, " upon his head."
4. And in every step toward this desirable end, the
" overcoming evil with good," " love is kind : " (xpijoreuerot, a
word not easily translated :) it is soft, mild, benign. It stands
at the utmost distance from moroseness, from all harshness
or sourness of spirit ; and inspires the sufferer at once with
the most amiable sweetness, and the .most fervent and tender
5. Consequently, " love envieth not : " it is impossible it
should ; it is directly opposite to that baneful temper. It
cannot be, that he who has this tender affection to all who
SERMON ON THE MOUNT. 141
earnestly wishes all temporal and spiritual blessings, all good
things in this world and the world to come, to every soul
that God hath made, should be pained at His bestowing any
good gift on any child of man. If he has himself received
the same, he does not grieve, but rejoice, that another par-
takes of the common benefit. If he has not, he blesses God
that his brother at least has, and is herein happier than
himself. And the greater his love, the more does he rejoice
in the blessings of all mankind ; the farther is he removed
from every kind and degree of envy toward any creature.
6. Love ov ireptcepeverai, — not " vaunteth not itself ; "
which coincides with the very next word ; but rather, (as
the word likewise properly imports,) is not rash or hasty in
judging ; it will not hastily condemn any one. It does not
pass a severe sentence, on a slight or sudden view of things :
it first weighs all the evidence, particularly that which is
brought in favour of the accused. A true lover of his neigh-
bour is not like the generality of men, who, even in cases of
the nicest nature, " see a little, presume a great deal, and so
jump to the conclusion." No : he proceeds with wariness
and circumspection, taking heed to every step ; willingly sub-
scribing to that rule of the ancient Heathen, (0 where will
the modern Christian appear !) " I am so far from lightly
believing what one man says against another, that I will
not easily believe what a man says against himself. I will
always allow him second thoughts, and many times counsel
7. It follows, love " is not puffed up : " it does not incline
or suffer any man " to think more highly of himself than he
ought to think ; " but rather to think soberly : yea, it humbles
the soul unto the dust. It destroys all high conceits engen-
dering pride ; and makes us rejoice to be as nothing, to be
little and vile, the lowest of all, the servant of all. They
who are " kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly
love," cannot but " in honour prefer one another." Those
who, having the same love, are of one accord, do in lowliness
of mind " each esteem other better than themselves."
8. " It doth not behave itself unseemly : " it is not rude,
i42 SERMON ON THE MOttNT.
or willingly offensive to any. It " renders to all their due ;
fear to whom fear, honour to whom honour;" courtesy,
civility, humanity to all the world ; in their several degrees
" honouring all men." A late writer defines good breeding,
nay, the highest degree of it, politeness, " A continual desire
to please, appearing in all the behaviour." But if so, there
is none so well bred as a Christian, a lover of all mankind.
For he cannot but desire to " please all men for their good to
edification : " and this desire cannot be hid ; it will neces-
sarily appear in all his intercourse with men. For his " love
is without dissimulation: " it will appear in all his actions
and conversation; yea, and will constrain him, though with-
out guile, " to become all things to all men, if by any means
he may save some."
9. And in becoming all things to all men, " love seeketh
not her own." In striving to please all men, the lover of
mankind has no eye at all to his own temporal advantage.
He covets no man's silver, or gold, or apparel : he desires
nothing but the salvation of their souls : yea, in some sense, he
may be said, not to seek his own spiritual, any more than tem-
poral, advantage ; for while he is on the full stretch to save
their souls from death, he, as it were, forgets himself. He
does not think of himself, so long as that zeal for the glory of
God swallows him up. Nay, at some times he may almost
seem, through an excess of love, to give up himself, both his
soul and his body ; while he cries out, with Moses, " 0, this
people have sinned a great sin ; yet now, if Thou wilt forgive
their sin—; and if not, blot me out of the book which Thou
hast written ; " (Exod. xxxii. 31, 32 ;)— or, with St. Paul, "I
could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my
brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh." (JRomans
10. No marvel that such " love is not provoked : " ov
irapo&VETai. Let it be observed, the word easily, strangely
inserted in the translation, is not in the original : St. Paul's
words are absolute. " Love is not provoked : " it is not pro-
voked to unkmdness toward anyone. Occasions indeed will
frequently occur ; outward provocations of various kinds ; but
SERMON ON THE MOUNT. 143
love does not yield to provocation ; it triumphs over all. In
all trials it looketh unto Jesus, and is more than conqueror in
It is not improbable that our translators inserted that
word, as it were, to excuse the Apostle ; who, as they supposed,
might otherwise appear to be wanting in the very love which
lie so beautifully describes. They seem to have supposed this
from a phrase in the Acts of the Apostles, which is likewise
very inaccurately translated. "When Paul and Barnabas dis-
agreed concerning John, the translation runs thus, " And the
contention was so sharp between them, that they departed
asunder." (Acts xv. 39.) This naturally induces the reader
to suppose, that they were equally sharp therein ; that St.
Paul, who was undoubtedly right, with regard to the point in
question, (it being quite improper to take John with them
again, who had deserted them before,) was as much provoked
as Barnabas, who gave such a proof of his anger, as to leave
the work for which he had been set apart by the Holy Ghost.
But the original imports no such thing ; nor does it affirm
that St. Paul was provoked at all. It simply says, "Syevero ovv
irapo^vafioQ, — " And there was a sharpness," a paroxysm of
anger ; in consequence of which Barnabas left St. Paul, took
John, and went his own way. Paul then " chose Silas and
departed, being recommended by the brethren to the grace of
God ; " (which is not said concerning Barnabas ;) " and he
went through Syria and Cilicia," as he had proposed, " con-
firming the churches." But to return.
ii. Love prevents a thousand provocations which would
Otherwise arise, because it " thinketh no evil." Indeed the
merciful man cannot avoid knowing many things that are
evil ; he cannot but see them with his own eyes, and hear
them with his own ears. For love does not put out his eyes,
so that it is impossible for him not to see that such things are
done ; neither does it take away his understanding, any more
than his senses, so that he cannot but know that they are evil.
For instance : when he sees a man strike his neighbour, or
hears him blaspheme God, he cannot either question the thing
done, or the words spoken, or doubt of their being evil : yet,
144 SERMON ON THE MOUNT.
oh Xoyi^erai rb kclkov. The word \oylferai, " thinketh," doe8
not refer either to our seeing and hearing, or to the first and
involuntary acts of our understanding ; but to our willingly
thinking what we need not ; our inferring evil, where it does
not appear ; to our reasoning concerning things which we do
not see ; our supposing what we have neither seen nor heard.
This is what true love absolutely destroys. It tears up, root
and branch, all imagining what we have not known. It casts
out all jealousies, all evil surmisings, all readiness to believe
evil. It is frank, open, unsuspicious ; and, as it cannot design,
so neither does it fear, evil.
12. It "rejoiceth not in iniquity; " common as this is,
even among those who bear the name of Christ, who scruplo
not to rejoice over their enemy, when he falleth either into
affliction, or error, or sin. Indeed, how hardly can they avoid
this, who are zealously attached to any party ! How difficult
is it for them not to be pleased with any fault which they dis-
cover in those of the opposite party, — with any real or sup-
posed blemish, either in their principles or practice ! What
warm defender of any cause is clear of these ? Tea, who is so
calm as to be altogether free ? Who does not rejoice when
his adversary makes a false step, which he thinks will advan-
tage his own cause ? Only a man of love. He alone weeps
over either the sin or folly of his enemy, takes no pleasure in
hearing or in repeating it, bat rather desires that it may be
forgotten for ever. I
13. But he "rejoiceth in the truth," wheresoever it is
found ; in "the truth which is after godliness ; " bringing forth
its proper fruit, — holiness of heart, and holiness of conversa-
tion. He rejoices to find that even those who oppose him,
whether with regard to opinions, or some points of practice,
are nevertheless lovers of God, and in other respects unre-
provable. He is glad to hear good of them, and to speak all
he can consistently with truth and justice. Indeed, good in
general is his glory and joy, wherever diffused throughout the
race of mankind. As a citizen of the world he claims a share
in the happiness of all the inhabitants of it. Because he is a
man, he is not unconcerned in the welfare of any man ; but
SERMON ON THE MOUNT. 145
enjoys whatsoever brings glory to G-od, and promotes peace
and good-will among men.
i+. This " love covereth all things : " (so, without all
doubt, iravra trreyei. should be translated; for otherwise it
would be the very same with iravra inrofiivei, " endureth all
things : ") because the merciful man rejoiceth not in iniquity,
neither does he willingly make mention of it. Whatever evil
he sees, hears, or knows, he nevertheless conceals, so far as he
can without making himself " partaker of other men's sins."
Wheresoever or with whomsoever he is, if he sees anything
which he approves not, it goes not out of his lips, unless to
the person concerned, if haply he may gain his brother. So
far is he from making the faults or failings of others the
matter of his conversation, that of the absent he never does
speak at all, unless he can speak well. A talebearer, a back-
biter, a whisperer, an evil-speaker, is to him all one as a mur-
derer. He would just as soon cut his neighbour's throat, as
thus murder his reputation. Just as soon would he think of
diverting himself by setting fire to his neighbour's house, as
of thus " scattering abroad arrows, fire-brands, and death,"
and saying, " Am I not in sport ? "
He makes one only exception. Sometimes he is convinced
that it is for the glory of God, or (which comes to the same)
the good of his neighbour, that an evil should not be covered.
In this case, for the benefit of the innocent, he is constrained
to declare the guilty. But even here, (1.) He will not speak
at all, till love, superior love, constrains him. (2.) He cannot
do it from a general confused view of doing good, or pro-
moting the glory of God, but from a clear sight of some par-
ticular end, some determinate good, which he pursues. (3.)
Still he cannot speak, unless he be fully convinced that this
very means is necessary to that end ; that the end cannot be
answered, at least not so effectually, by any other way. (4.)
He then doeth it with the utmost sorrow and reluctance ;
using it as the last and worst medicine, a desperate remedy in
a desperate case, a kind of poison never to be used but to
expel poison. Consequently, (5.) He uses it as sparingly as
possible. And this he does with fear and trembling, lest he
146 SERMON ON THE MOUNT.
should transgress the law of love by speaking too much, more
than he would have done by not speaking at all.
15. Love " believeth all things." It is always willing to
think the best ; to put the most favourable construction on
everything. It is ever ready to believe whatever may tend to
the advantage of any one's character. It is easily convinced
of (what it earnestly desires) the innocence and integrity of
any man ; or, at least, of the sincerity of his repentance, if he
had once erred from the way. It is glad to excuse whatever
is amiss ; to condemn the offender as little as possible ; and to
make all the allowance for human weakness which can be done
without betraying the truth of God.
1 6. And when it can no longer believe, then love " hopeth
all things." Is any evil related of any man ? Love hopes
that the relation is not true, that the thing related was never
done. Is it certain it was ? — " But perhaps it was not done
with such circumstances as are related ; so that, allowing the
fact, there is room to hope it was not so ill as it is repre-
sented." Was^the action apparently undeniably evil ? Love
hopes the intention was not so. Is it clear, the design was
evil too ? — " Yet might it not spring from the settled temper
of the heart, but from a start of passion, or from some vehe-
ment temptation, which hurried the man beyond himself."
And even when it cannot be doubted, but all the actions, de-
signs, and tempers are equally evil ; still love hopes that God
will at last make bare His arm, and get Himself the victory ;
and that there shall be " joy in heaven over " this " one sin-
ner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just
persons that need no repentance."
17. Lastly. It "endurethall things." This completes
the character of him that is truly merciful. He endureth
not some, not many, things only ; not most, but absolutely
all things. Whatever the injustice, the malice, the cruelty
of men can inflict, he is able to suffer. He calls nothing'in-
tolerable ; he never says of anything, " This is not to be
borne." No; he can not only do, but suffer, all things
through Christ which strengthened him. And all he suffers
does not destroy his love, nor impair it in the least. It is
SERMON ON TflE MOUNT. 147
proof against all. It is a flame that burns even in the midst
of the great deep. " Many waters cannot quench " his " love,
neither can the floods drown it." It triumphs over all, It
" never faileth," either in time or in eternity.
" In obedience to what heaven decrees,
Knowledge shall fail, and prophecy shall cease ;
But lasting charity's more ample sway,
Nor bound by time, nor subject to decay,
In happy triumph shall for ever live,
And endless good diffuse, and endless praise receive."
So shall " the merciful obtain mercy ; " not only by the
blessing of God upon all their ways, by His now repaying
the love they bear to their brethren a thousand-fold into their
own bosom ; but likewise by " an exceeding and eternal
weight of glory," in the " kingdom prepared for them from
the beginning of the world."
1 8. For a little while yon may say, "Woe is me, that I"
am constrained to " dwell with Mesech, and to have my habi-
tation among the tents of Kedar ! " You may pour out your
soul, and bemoan the loss of true, genuine love in the earth :
lost indeed ! You may well say, (but not in the ancient sense,)
" See how these Ohristianslove one another ! " these Christian
kingdoms, that are tearing out each other's bowels, desolating
one another with fire and sword ! these Christian armies, that
are sending each other by thousands, by ten thousands, quick
into hell! these Christian nations, that are all on fire with
intestine broils, party against party, faction against faction!
these Christian cities, where deceit and fraud, oppression and
wrong, yea robbery and murder, go not out of their streets !
these Christian families, torn asunder with envy, jealousy,
anger, domestic jars, without number, without end! yea,
what is most dreadful, most to be lamented of all, these
Christian churches ! — churches (" tell it not in Gath," — but,
alas ! how can we hide it, either from Jews, Turks, or
Pagans ?) that bear the name of Christ, the Prince of Peace,
and wage continual war with each other ! that convert sin-
ners by burning them alive ! that are " drunk with the blood
of the saints ! " — Does this praise belong only to " Babylon the
148 SERMON ON THE MOUNT.
Great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth ? "
If ay, verily ; but Reformed churches (so called) have fairly
learned to tread in her steps. Protestant churches too know
to persecute, when they have power in their hands, even
unto blood. And meanwhile, how do they also anathematize
each other ! devote each other to the nethermost hell ! What
wrath, what contention, what malice, what bitterness, is
everywhere found among them, even where they agree in
essentials, and only differ in opinions, or in the circumstan-
tials of religion ! Who follows after only the " things that
make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify
another ?" God ! how long ? Shall Thy promise fail ?
Pear it not, ye little flock! Against hope, believe in hope !
It is your Father's good pleasure yet to renew the face of the
earth. Surely all these things shall come to an end, and the
inhabitants of the earth shall learn righteousness. " Nation
shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they know
war any more." " The mountain of the Lord's house shall
be established on the top of the mountains ; " and " all the
kingdoms of the earth shall become the kingdoms of our
God." " They shall not " then " hurt or destroy in all His
holy mountain ; " but they shall call their " walls salvation,
and their gates praise." They shall all be without spot or
blemish, loving one another, even as Christ hath loved us.—
Be thou part of the first-fruits, if the harvest is not yet. Do
thou love thy neighbour as thyself. The Lord God fill thy
heart with such a love to every soul, that thou mayest be
ready to lay down thy life for his sake ! May thy soul con-
tinually overflow with love, swallowing up every unkind and
unholy temper, till He calleth thee up into the region of
love, there to reign with Him for ever and ever !
Are "hatred, anger, and fear," in every case evil and mischievous ?
" Even the harsher and more unpleasing passions are applicable to
the noblest purposes, even hatred, anger, and fear, when ensured
against sin," etc.— Sec. I. 5.
SERMON ON THE MOUNT. 149
What is ihe force of the expression " without a cause " I
See Sec. I. 8.
How does Wesley explain the three degrees of condemnation ?
See Sec. I. 8, 9,10.
What else besides worldly happiness is incapable of satisfying the soul ?
" What the world accounts religion."
What is Wesley's description of party-spirit 1
See Sec. III. 12.
How does he translate the passage rendered in the A. V, " Charity
beareth all things" t
See Sec. III. 14.
What lines of Pope embody Wesley's idea of the meaning of this pas-
" Teach me to feel another's woe,
To hide the fault I see," etc.
What is his description of the love that " hopeth all things " 1
See Sec. III. 16.
Is there any limit to the endurance of " charity " ?
See Sec. III. 17
THE ORIGINAL, NATURE, PROPERTY,
AND USE OF THE LAW.
" Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and
just, and good." Rom. vii. 12.
PERHAPS there are few subjects within the whole com-
pass of religion so little understood as this. The reader
of this Epistle is usually told, by " the law " St. Paul means
the Jewish law ; and so, apprehending himself to have no
concern therewith, passes on without farther thought about
it. Indeed some are not satisfied with this account ; but
observing the Epistle is directed to the Eomans, thence infer
that the Apostle in the beginning of this chapter alludes to
the old Roman law. But as they have no more concern with
this, than with the ceremonial law of Moses, so they spend
not much thought on what they suppose is occasionally men-
tioned barely to illustrate another thing.
2. But a careful observer of the Apostle's discourse will
not be content with these light explications of it. And the
more he weighs the words, the more convinced he will be,
that St. Paul, by " the law " mentioned in this chapter, does
not mean either the ancient law of Rome, or the ceremonial
law of Moses. This will clearly appear to all who attentively
consider the tenor of his discourse. He begins the chapter,
" Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the
law,)" to them who have been instructed therein from their
youth, " that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he
liveth ? " (What ! the law of Rome only, or the ceremonial
law ? No, surely ; but the moral law.) " For," to give a
plain instance, " the woman which hath a husband is bound
by the " moral " law to her husband so long as he liveth ;
THE ORIGINAL, ETC., OP THE LAW. 151
but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her
husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married
to another man, she shall be called an adulteress : but if her
husband be dead, she is free from that law ; so that she is no
adulteress, though she be married to another man." From
this particular instance the Apostle proceeds to draw that
general conclusion : " Wherefore, my brethren," by a plain
parity of reason, " ye also are become dead to the law," the
whole Mosaic institution, " by the body of Christ," offered for
you, and bringing you under a new dispensation : " That ye
should " without any blame " be married to another, even to
Him who is raised from the dead ; " and hath thereby given
proof of His authority to make the change ; " that we should
bring forth fruit unto God." And this we can do now,
whereas before we could not : " for when we were in the.
flesh," under the power of the flesh, that is, of corrupt
nature, which was necessarily the case till we knew the
power of Christ's resurrection, " the motions of sins, which
were by the law," — which were shown and inflamed by the
Mosaic law, not conquered, — " did work in our members," —
broke out various ways, — " to bring forth fruit unto death."
" But now we are delivered from the law ; " from that whole
moral, as well as ceremonial economy ; " that being dead
whereby we were held; " — that entire institution being now
as it were dead, and having no more authority over us than
the husband, when dead, hath over his wife : " That we
should serve Him," — who died for us and rose again, " in
newness of spirit ; " — in a new spiritual dispensation ; " and
not in the oldness of the letter ; " — with a bare outward
service, according to the letter of the Mosaic institution.
(Verses 1 — 6.)
3. The Apostle, having gone thus far in proving that the
Christian had set aside the Jewish dispensation, and that the
moral law itself, though it could never pass away, yet stood
on a different foundation from what it did before, — now stops
to propose and answer an objection : " What shall we say
then ? Is the law sin ? " So some might infer from a mis-
apprehension of those words, " the motions of sins, which
152 THE ORIGINAL, ETC., OP THE LAW.
were by the law." " God forbid ! " saith the Apostle, that we
should say so. Nay, the law is an irreconcilable enemy to sin ;
searching it out, wherever it is. " I had not known sin, but
by the law : for I had not known lust," evil desire, to be sin,
" except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet." (Verse 7.)
After opening this farther, in the four following verses, he
subjoins this general conclusion, with regard more especially
to the moral law, from which the preceding instance was
taken: "Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment
holy, and just, and good."
4. In order to explain and enforce these deep words, so
little regarded, because so little understood, I shall endeavour
to show, first, the original of this law ; secondly, the nature
thereof ; thirdly, the properties, — that it is holy, and just,
and good ; and, fourthly, the uses of it.
1. 1. I shall, first, endeavour to show the original of the
moral law, often called " the law," by way of eminence. Now
this is not, as some may have possibly imagined, of so late an
institution as the time of Moses. Noah declared it to men
long before that time, and Enoch before him. But we may
trace its original higher still, even beyond the foundation of
the world ; to that period, unknown indeed to men, but doubt-
less enrolled in the annals of eternity, when " the morning
stars " first " sang together," being newly called into exist-
ence. It pleased the great Creator to make these, His first-
born sons, intelligent beings, that they might know Him
that created them. For this end He endued them with
understanding, to discern truth from falsehood, good from
evil ; and, as a necessary result of this, with liberty, a capa-
city of choosing the one and refusing the other. By this they
were, likewise, enabled to offer Him a free and willing ser-
vice ; a service rewardable in itself, as well as most accept-
able to their gracious Master.
2. To employ all the faculties which He had given them,
particularly their understanding and liberty, He gave them
a law, a complete model of all truth, so far as is intelligible
tri a finite being ; and of all good, so far as angelic minds were
THE ORIGINAL, ETC., OF THE LAW. 153
capable of embracing it. It was also the design of their
beneficent Governor herein to make way for a continual in-
crease of their happiness ; seeing every instance of obedience
to that law would both add to the perfection of their nature,
and entitle them to an higher reward, which the righteous
Judge would give in its season.
3. In like manner, when God, in His appointed time, had
created a new order of intelligent beings, when He had raised
man from the dust of the earth, breathed into him the breath
of life, and caused him to become a living soul, endued with
power to choose good or evil ; He gave to this free, intelligent
creature the same law as to His first-born children ; — not wrote,
indeed, upon tables of stone, or any corruptible substance, but
engraven on his heart by the finger of God ; wrote in the
inmost spirit both of men and of angels ; to the intent it might
never be far off, never hard to be understood, but always at
hand, and always shining with clear light, even as the sun in
the midst of heaven.
4. Such was the original of the law of God. With regard
to man, it was coeval with his nature ; but with regard to the
elder sons of God, it shone in its full splendour " or ever the
mountains were brought forth, or the earth and the round
world were made." But it was not long before man rebelled
against God, and, by breaking this glorious law, well nigh
effaced it out of his heart ; the eyes of his understanding being
darkened in the same measure as his soul was " alienated from"
the life of God." And yet God did not despise the work of
His own hands ; but, being reconciled to man through the Son
of His love, He, in some measure, re-inscribed the law on the
heart of His dark, sinful creature. " He " again " showed
thee, man, what is good," although not as in the beginning,
"even to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly
with thy God."
3. And this He showed, not only to our first parents, but
likewise to all their posterity, by " that true light which
enlightens every man that cometh into the world." But,
notwithstanding this light, all flesh had, in process of time,
'! corrupted their way before Him ; " till He chose out of man-
154 THE ORIGINAL,. ETC., OF THE LAW.
kind a -peculiar people, to whom He gave a more perfect know-
ledge of His law : and the heads of this, because they were
slow of understanding, He wrote on two tables of stone, which
He commanded the fathers to teach their children, through all
6. And thus it is, that the law of God is now made known
to them that know not God. They hear, with the hearing
of the ear, the things that were written aforetime for our
instruction. But this does not suffice : they cannot, by this
means, comprehend the height, and depth, and length, and
breadth thereof. God alone can reveal this by His Spirit.
And so He does to all that truly believe, in consequence of
that gracious promise made to all the Israel of God : " Behold,
the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant 1
with the house of Israel. And this shall be the covenant that
I will make ; I will put My law in their inward parts, and
write it in their hearts ; and I will be their God, and they shall
be My people." (Jer. xxxi. 31, &c.)
II. i. The nature of that law which was originally given
to angels in heaven and man in paradise, and which God has
so mercifully promised to write afresh in the hearts of all
true believers, was the second thing I proposed to show.
In order to which, I would first observe, that although the"
" law " and the " commandment " are sometimes differently
taken, (the commandment meaning but a part of the law,)
yet in the text they are used as equivalent terms, implying
one and the same thing. But we cannot understand here,
either by one or the other, the ceremonial law. It is not the
ceremonial law, whereof the Apostle says, in the words above
recited, " I had not known sin, "but by the law : " this is too
plain to need a proof. Neither is it the ceremonial law which
saith, in the words immediately subjoined, " Thou shalt not
covet." Therefore the ceremonial law has no place in the
2. Neither can we understand by " the law " mentioned in
the text the Mosaic dispensation. It is true, the word is some-
times so understood ; as when the Apostle says, speaking to
THE ORIGINAL, ETC., OF THE LAW. 155
the Galatians, (iii. 17,) " The covenant that was confirmed
before ; " namely, with Abraham, the father of the faithful,
" the law," that is, the Mosaic dispensation, " which was four
hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul." But it
cannot be understood so in the text ; for the Apostle never
bestows so high commendations as these upon that imperfect
and shadowy dispensation. He nowhere affirms the Mosaic
to be a spiritual law ; or, that it is holy, and just, and good.
Neither is it true, that God will write that law in the hearts
of those whose iniquities He remembers no more. It remains,
that " the law," eminently so termed, is no other than the
3. Now, this law is an incorruptible picture of the High
and Holy One that inhabiteth eternity. It is He whom, in
His essence, no man hath seen, or can see, made visible to
men and angels. It is the face of God unveiled ; God mani-
fested to His creatures as they are able to bear it ; manifested
to give, and not to destroy, life, — that they may see God and
live. It is the heart of God disclosed to man. Yea, in some
sense, we may apply to this law what the Apostle says of His
Son : it is a/rcavyaafia Ttjg $6£,t)q, Kal ^apa/a-rlp rrjs vTroaraaeue
avTov, — the streaming forth or out-beaming of His glory, the
express image of His person.
4. " If virtue," said the ancient Heathen, " could assume
such a shape as that we could behold her with our eyes, what
wonderful love would she excite in us ! " If virtue could do
this ! It is done already. The law of God is all virtues in
one, in such a shape as to be beheld with open face by all
those whose eyes God hath enlightened. What is the law but
divine virtue and wisdom assuming a visible form ? What is
it but the original ideas of truth and good, which were lodged
in the uncreated mind fi'om eternity, now drawn forth and
clothed with such a vehicle as to appear even to human under-
i;. If we survey the law of God in another point of view,
it is supreme, unchangeable reason ; it is unalterable rec-
titude ; it is the everlasting fitness of all things that are or
ever were created. I am sensible, what a shortness, and even
156 THE ORIGINAL. ETC., OF THE LAW.
impropriety, there is, in these and all other human expressions,
when we endeavour by these faint pictures to shadow out the
deep things of God. Nevertheless, we have no better, indeed
no other way, during this our infant state of existence. As
we now " know " but " in part," so we are constrained to
" prophesy," that is, speak of the things of God, " in part "
also. " We cannot order our speech by reason of darkness,"
while we are in this house of clay. While I am " a child," I
must "speak as a child : " but I shall soon "put away childish
things ; " for " when that which is perfect is come, that which
is in part shall be done away."
6. But to return. The law of God (speaking after the
manner of men) is a copy of the eternal mind, a transcript of
the divine nature ; yea, it is the fairest offspring of the ever-
lasting Father, the brightest efflux of His essential wisdom,
the visible beauty of the Most High. It is the delight and
wonder of cherubim and seraphim, and all the company- of
heaven, and the glory and joy of every wise believer, every
well-instructed child of God upon earth.
III. i. Such is the nature of the ever-blessed law of God.
I am, in the third place, to show the properties of it : — not all ;
for that would exceed the wisdom of an angel ; but those only
which are mentioned in the text. These are three : it is holy
just, and good. And, first, the law is holy.
2. In this expression the Apostle does not appear to speak
of its effects, but rather of its nature : as St. James, speaking
of the same thing under another name, says, " The wisdom
from above" (which is no other than this law, written in our
heart) " is first pure; " (iii. 17 ;) kyvrj,— chaste, spotless; eter-
nally and essentially holy. And, consequently, when it is
transcribed into the life, as well as the soul, it is (as the same
Apostle terms it, i. 27) Opr/triceta icadapa rat afiiavTos, — pure
religion and undefiled ; or, the pure, clean, unpolluted worship
3. It is, indeed, in the highest degree, pure, chaste, clean,
holy. Otherwise it could not be the immediate offspring, and
much less the express resemblance, of Godj who is essential
THE ORIGINAL, ETC., OP THE LAW. 157
holiness. It is pure from all sin, clean and unspotted from
any touch of evil. It is a chaste virgin, incapable of any
defilement, of any mixture with that which is unclean or
unholy. It has no fellowship with sin of any kind : for
"what communion hath light with darkness?" As sin is,
in its very nature, enmity to God, so His law is enmity to
4. Therefore it is that the Apostle rejects with such abhor-
rence that blasphemous supposition, that the law of God is
either sin itself, or the cause of sin. God forbid that we
should suppose it is the cause of sin, because it is the dis-
coverer of it ; because it detects the hidden things of dark-
ness, and drags them out into open day. It is true, by this
means, (as the Apostle observes, Romans vii. 13,) "sin appears
to be sin." All its disguises are torn away, and it appears in
its native deformity. It is true likewise, that " sin, by the
commandment, becomes exceeding sinful : " being now com-
mitted against light and knowledge, being stripped even of
the poor plea of ignorance, it loses its excuse, as well as dis-
guise, and becomes far more odious both to God and man.
Yea, and it is true, that " sin worketh death by that which is
good ; " which in itself is pure and holy. When it is dragged
out to light, it rages the more : when it is restrained, it bursts
out with great violence. Thus the Apostle, (speaking in the
person of one who was convinced of sin, but not yet delivered
from it,) " Sin, taking occasion by the commandment" detect-
ing and endeavouring to restrain it, disdained the restraint,
and so much the more "wrought in me all manner of concu-
piscence;" (verse 8 ;) all manner of foolish and hurtful desire,
which that commandment sought to restrain. Thus, " when
the commandment came, sin revived : " (verse 9 :) it fretted
and raged the more. But this is no stain on the command-
ment. Though it is abused, it cannot be defiled. This only
proves that "the heart of man is desperately wicked." But
"the law " of God " is holy " still.
5. And it is, secondly, just. It renders to all their due.
It prescribes exactly what is right, precisely what ought to be
done, said, or thought, both with regard to the Author of our
•15$ tfHE ORIGINAL, ETC., OF THE LAW.
being, with regard to ourselves, and with regard to every
creature which. He has made. It is adapted, in all respects, to
the nature of things, of the whole universe, and every indi-
vidual. It is suited to all the circumstances of each, and to
all their mutual relations, whether such as have existed from
the beginning, or such as commenced in any following period.
It is exactly agreeable to the fitnesses of things, whether
essential or accidental. It clashes with none of these in
any degree; nor is ever unconnected with them. If the
word be taken in that sense, there is nothing arbitrary in
the law of God. Although still the whole and every part
thereof is totally dependent upon His will ; so that, " Thy
will be done," is the supreme, universal law both in earth
6. " But is the will of God the cause of His law ? Is His
will the original of right and wrong ? Is a thing therefore
right, because God wills it ? or does He will it because it is
I fear this celebrated question is more curious than useful.
And perhaps in the manner it is usually treated of, it does not
so well consist with the regard that is due from a creature to
the Creator and Governor of all things. It is hardly decent
for man to call the supreme God to give an account to him.
Nevertheless, with awe and reverence we may speak a little.
The Lord pardon us if we speak amiss ! . ■ --
7. It seems then, that the whole difficulty arises from
considering God's will as distinct from God : otherwise it
-vanishes away. For none can doubt but God is the cause of
the law of God. But the will of God is God Himself. It is
God considered as willing thus or thus. Consequently, to
say that the will of God, or that God Himself , is the cause of
the law, is one and the same thing.
8. Again: If the law, the immutable rule of right and
wrong, depends upon the nature and fitnesses of things, and
on their essential relations to each other ; (I do not say, their
eternal relations ; because the eternal relation of things exist-
ing in time, is little less than a contradiction ;) if, I say, this
depends on the nature and relations of things, then it must
THE OKIGINAL, ETC., OF THE LAW. 159
depend on God, or the will of God; because those things
themselves, with all their relations, are the works of His hands.
By His will, "for His pleasure " alone, they all " are and were
9. And yet it may be granted, (which is probably all that
a considerate person would contend for,) that in every par-
ticular case, God wills this or this, (suppose, that men should
honour their parents,) because it is right, agreeable to the
fitness of things, to the relation wherein they stand.
10. The law then is right and just concerning all things.
And it is good as well as just. This we may easily infer from
the fountain whence it flowed. For what was this, but the
goodness of God ? What but goodness alone inclined Him to
impart that divine copy of Himself to the holy angels ? To
what else can we impute His bestowing upon man the same
transcript of His own nature ? And what but tender love
constrained Him afresh to manifest His will to fallen man, —
either to Adam, or any of his seed, who like him were "come
short of the glory of God ? " Was it not mere love that
moved Him to publish His law afterthe understandings of men
were darkened ? and to send His Prophets to declare that
law to the blind, thoughtless children of men ? Doubtless
His goodness it was which raised up Enoch and Noah to be
Preachers of righteousness; which caused Abraham, His friend,
and Isaac, and Jacob, to bear witness to His truth. It was
His goodness alone, which, when "darkness had covered the
earth, and thick darkness the people," gave a written law to
Moses, and, through him, to the nation whom He had chosen.
It was love which explained these living oracles by David and
all the Prophets that followed ; until, when the fulness of
time was come, He sent His only-begotten Son, " nottodestroy
the law, but to fulfil," confirm every jot and tittle thereof;
till, having wrote it in the hearts of all His children, and
put all His enemies under His feet, " He shall deliver up "
His mediatorial " kingdom to the Father, that God may be
all in all."
1 1 . And this law, which the goodness of God gave at first,
and has preserved through all ages, is, like the fountain from
160 THE ORIGINAL, ETC., OF THE LA"&V.
whence it springs, full of goodness and benignity : it is mild
and kind ; it is, as the Psalmist expresses it, " sweeter than
honey and the honey-comb." It is winning and amiable. It
includes " whatsoever things are lovely or of good report. If
there be any virtue, if there be any praise " before God and
His holy angels, they are all comprised in this ; wherein are
hid all the treasures of the divine wisdom, and knowledge,
12. And it is good in its effects, as well as in its nature.
As the tree is, so are its fruits. The fruits of the law of
God written in the heart are " righteousness, and peace, and
assurance for ever." Or rather, the law itself is righteous-
ness, filling the soul with a peace which passeth all understand-
ing, and causing us to rejoice evermore, in the testimony of a
good conscience toward God. It is not so properly a pledge,
as " an earnest, of our inheritance," being a part of the pur-
chased possession. It is God made manifest in our flesh, and
bringing with Him eternal life ; assuring us by that pure and
perfect love, that we are " sealed unto the day of redemption; "
that He will " spare us as a man spareth his own son that
servethhim," " in the day when He maketh up His jewels ; "
and that there remaineth for us " a crown of glory which
fadeth not away."
IV i. It remains only to show, in tbe fourth and last
place, the uses of the law. And the first use of it, without
question, is, to convince the world of sin. This is, indeed,
the peculiar work of the Holy Ghost ; who can work it with-
out any means at all, or by whatever means it pleaseth Him,
however insufficient in themselves, or even improper, to pro-
duce such an effect. And, accordingly, some there are whose
hearts have been broken in pieces in a moment, either in
sickness or in health, without any visible cause, or any out-
ward means whatever ; and others (one in an age) have been
awakened to a sense of the "wrath of God abiding on them,"
by hearing that " God was in Christ, reconciling the world
unto Himself." But it is the ordinary method of the Spirit of
God to convict sinners by the law. It is this which, being set
TfiE ORIGINAL, ETC., OF THE LAW. 161
home on the conscience, generally breaketh the rocks in pieces.
It is more especially this part of the word of God which is
l,Qv Kal evepyfie, — quick and powerful, full of life and energy,
" and sharper than any two-edged sword." This, in the hand
of God and of those whom He hath sent, pierces through all
the folds of a deceitful heart, and " divides asunder even the
soul and the spirit ; " yea, as it were, the very " joints and
marrow." By this is the sinner discovered to himself. All
his fig-leaves are torn away, and he sees that he is "wretched,
and poor, and miserable, and blind, and naked." The law
flashes conviction on every side. He feels himself a mere
sinner. He has nothing to pay. His "mouth is stopped,"
and he stands " guilty before God."
2. To slay the sinner is, then, the first use of the law ; to
destroy the life and strength wherein he trusts, and convince
him that he is dead while he liveth ; not only under the sen-
tence of death, but actually dead unto God, void of all spiritual
life, " dead in trespasses and sins." The second use of it is,
to bring him unto life, unto Christ, that he may live. It is
true, in performing both these offices, it acts the part of a
severe schoolmaster. It drives us by force, rather than draws
us by love. And yet love is the spring of all. It is the spirit
of love which, by this painful means, tears away our confi-
dence in the flesh, which leaves us no broken reed whereon
to trust, and so constrains the sinner, stripped of all, to cry
out in the bitterness of his soul, or groan in the depth of
" I give up every plea beside, —
Lord, I am damn'd ; but Thou hast died."
3. The third use of the law is, to keep us alive. It is the
grand means whereby the blessed Spirit prepares the believer
for larger communications of the life of God.
I am afraid this great and important truth is little under-
stood, not only by the world, but "even by many whom God
hath taken out of the world, who are real children of God by
faith. Many of these lay it down as an unquestioned truth,
that when we com© to Christ, we have done with the law ;
162 T3E ORIGINAL, ETC., OF THE tAW.
and that, in this sense, " Christ is the end of the law to every-
one that believeth." " The end of the law : "—so He is, "for
righteousness," for justification, "to every one that believeth."
Herein the law is at an end. It justifies none, but only brings
them to Christ ; who is also, in another respect, the end or
scope of the law, — the point at which it continually aims.
But when it has brought us to Him, it has yet a farther office,
namely, to keep us with Him. For it is continually exciting
all believers, the more they see of its height, and depth, and
length, and breadth, to exhort one another so much the
" Closer and closer let us cleave
To His beloved embrace ;
Expect His fulness to receive,
And grace to answer grace."
4. Allowing then, that every believer has done with the
law, as it means the Jewish ceremonial law, or the entire
Mosaic dispensation ; (for these Christ hath taken out of the
way ;) yea, allowing we have done with the moral law, as a
means of procuring our justification ; for we are " justified
freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus ; "
yet, in another sense, we have not done with this law : for it
is still of unspeakable use, first, in convincing us of the sin
that yet remains both in our hearts and lives, and thereby
keeping us close to Christ, that His blood may cleanse us
every moment ; secondly, in deriving strength from our Head
into His living members, whereby He empowers them to do
what His law commands ; and, thirdly, in confirming our
hope of whatsoever it commands and we have not yet attained,
— of receiving grace upon grace, till we are in actual posses-
sion of the fulness of His promises.
5. How clearly does this agree with the experience of
every true believer ! While he cries out, " O what love have
I unto Thy law ! all the day long is my study in it; " he sees
daily, in that divine mirror, more and more of his own sinful-
ness. He sees more and more clearly, that he is still a sinner
in all things,— that neither his heart nor his ways are right
before God ; and that every moment sends him to Christ.
THE ORIGINAL, ETC., OF THE LAW. 163
This shows him the meaning of what is written, " Thou shalt
make a plate of pure gold, and grave upon it, Holiness to
the Lord. And it shall be upon Aaron's forehead," (the type
of our great High Priest,) "that Aaron may bear the iniquity
of the holy things, which the children of Israel shall hallow
in all their holy gifts ; " (so far are our prayers or holy
things from atoning for the rest of our sin ;) "and it shall be
always upon his forehead, that they may be accepted before
the Lord." (Exodus xxviii. 36, 38.)
6. To explain this by a single instance : the law says,
" Thou shalt not kill ; " and hereby, (as our Lord teaches,)
forbids not only outward acts, but every unkind word or
thought. Now, the more I look into this perfect law, the
more I feel how far I come short of it ; and the more I feel
this, the more I feel my need of His blood to atone for all my
sin, and of His Spirit to purify my heart, and make me " per-
fect and entire, lacking nothing."
J. Therefore I cannot spare the law one moment, no more
than I can spare Christ ; seeing I now want it as much to
keep me to Christ, as I ever wanted it to bring me to Him.
Otherwise, this " evil heart of unbelief " would immediately
" depart from the living God." Indeed each is continually
sending me to the other, — the law to Christ, and Christ to
the law. On the one hand, the height and depth of the law
constrain me to fly to the love of God in Christ ; on the ot her,
the love of God in Christ endears the law to me " above gold
or precious stones ; " seeing I know every part of it is a
gracious promise which my Lord will fulfil in its season.
8. Who art thou then, man, that " judgest the law, and
speakest evil of the law ? "—that rankest it with sin, Satan,
and death, and sendest them all to hell together? The
Apostle James esteemed judging or " speaking evil of the
law " so enormous a piece of wickedness, that ho knew not
how to aggravate the guilt of judging our brethren more,
than by showing it included this. " So now," says he, " thou
art not a doer of the law, but a judge ! " A judge of that
which God hath ordained to judge thee ! So thou hast set
up thyself in the judgment seat of Christ, and cast down the
164 THE ORIGINAL, ETC., OP THE LAW:
rule whereby He will judge the world ! O take knowledge
what advantage Satan hath gained over thee ; and, for the
time to come, never think or speak lightly of, much less dress
up as a scarecrow, this blessed instrument of the grace of
God Yea, love and value it for the sake of Him from whom
it came, and of Him to whom it leads. Let it be thy glory
and joy, next to the cross of Christ. Declare its praise, and
make it honourable before all men.
o And if thou art thoroughly convinced that it is the
offspring of God, that it is the copy of all His imitable. per-
fections, and that it is "holy, and just, and good," but
especially to them that believe; then, instead of casting it
away as a polluted thing, see that thou cleave to it more and
more. Never let the law of mercy and truth, of love to God
and man, of lowliness, meekness, and purity, forsake thee.
"Bind it about thy neck; write it on the table of thy
heart." Keep close to the law, if thou wilt keep close to
Christ ; hold it fast ; let it not go. Let this continually
lead thee to the atoning blood, continually confirm thy hope,
till all the '^righteousness of the law is fulfilled in thee," and
thou art "filled with all the fulness of God."
10. And if thy Lord hath already fulfilled His word, if
He hath already " written His law in thy heart," then "stand
fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made thee free."
Thou art not only made free from Jewish ceremonies, from
the guilt of sin, and the fear of hell ; (these are so far from
being the whole, that they are the least and lowest part of
Christian liberty ;) but, what is infinitely more, from the
power of sin, from serving the devil, from offending God.
stand fast in this liberty : in comparison of which, all the
rest is not even worthy to be named ! Stand fast in loving
God with all thy heart, and serving Him with all thy
strength ! This is perfect freedom ; thus to keep His law,
and to walk in all His commandments blameless. " Be not
entangled again with the yoke of bondage." I do not mean
of Jewish bondage ; nor yet of bondage to the fear of hell ;
these, I trust, are far from thee. But beware of being
entangled again with the yoke of sin, of any inward or out-
THE ORIGINAL, ETC., OF THE LAW. 165
ward transgression of the law. Abhor sin far more than
death or hell ; abhor sin itself, far more than the punish-
ment of it. Beware of the bondage of pride, of desire, of
anger ; of every evil temper, or word, or work. " Look unto
Jesus ; " and in order thereto, look more and more into the
perfect law, " the law of liberty ; " and " continue therein ; "
so shalt thou daily " grow in grace, and in the knowledge of
our Lord Jesus Christ."
From what " law " is it that believers are " delivered " by the death of
" That whole moral as well as ceremonial economy," etc. — Sec. 2.
In what sense are believers " delivered from the law " ?
Those who are " in Christ," serve God now " in newness of spirit ; " —
in a new spiritual dispensation ; "and not in the oldness of the
letter ; — with a bare outward service," etc. — Sec. 2.
What is " the original " of the law 1
See Sec. I. 1.
When and h<nv was the law first given to man ?
See Sec. I. 3.
Has the law on the heart been quite lost since the fall ?
No. God " in some measure reinscnbcd the law on the heart of
His dark, sinful creature."
What relation do the Ten Commandments bear to the law written on
the heart ?
See Sec. I. 5.
How does Wesley demonstrate that the law from which Christ delivers
believers is not merely the ceremonial law I
See Sec. II. 2.
Quote Wesley's definition of the law of God.
" It is supreme, unchangeable reason ; it is unalterable rectitude ;
it is the everlasting fitness of all things."
How does he unfold the justice of the law 1
See Sec. III. 5.
How does he settle the great question of the origin of right and wrong ?
See Sec. III. 6, 7, 8.
166 THE ORIGINAL, ETC., OF THE LAW.
What are " the uses of the law " ?
See Sec. IV. 1, 2.
How does Wesley steer triumphantly between legality on the one hand,
and Antinomianism on the other 1
See Sec. IV. 3, 4.
How does he prove that our religious performances cannot atone for our
See Sec. IV. 5, 6.
Can a believer do without the law ?
" I cannot spare the law one moment, no more than I can spare
Christ ; seeing I now want it as much to keep me to Christ, as I
ever wanted it to bring me to Him," etc. — Sec. IV. 7, 8.
What is the rank of the law in the kingdom of grace 1
"Next to the cross of Christ."
" We are not ignorant of his devices." 2 Coe. ii. 11.
THE devices whereby the subtle god of this world labours
to destroy the children of God — or at least to torment
whom he cannot destroy, to perplex and hinder them in run-
ning the race which is set before them — are numberless as
the stars of heaven, or the sand upon the sea-shore. But it
is of one of them only that I now propose to speak, (although
exerted in various ways,) whereby he endeavours to divide
the Gospel against itself, and by one part of it to overthrow
2. The inward kingdom of heaven, which is set up in the
hearts of all that repent and believe the Gospel, is no other
than " righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost."
Every babe in Christ knows we are made partakers of these,
the very hour that we believe in Jesus. But these are only
the first-fruits of His Spirit ; the harvest is not yet. Although
these blessings are inconceivably great, yet we trust to seo
greater than these. We trust to love the Lord our God, not
only as we do now, with a weak, though sincere affection,
but " with all our heart, with all our mind, with all our soul,
and with all our strength." We look for power to " rejoice
evermore, to pray without ceasing, ami in everything to give
thanks ; " knowing, " this is the will of God in Christ Jesus
3. We expect to be "made perfect in love;" in that which
casts out all painful fear, and all desire but that of glorifying
Him we love, and of loving and serving Him more and more.
We look for such an increase in the experimental knowledge
and love of God our Saviour, as will enable us always "to
walk in the light as He is in the light." We believe the
168 satan's devices.
whole mind will be in ns " which was also in Christ Jesus ; "
that we shall love every man so as to be ready to lay down
our life for his sake ; so as, by this love, to be freed from
anger, and pride, and from every unkind affection. We ex-
pect to be "cleansed from all our idols," "from all filthiness,"
whether "of flesh or spirit; " to be "saved from all our un-
cleannesses," inward or outward ; to be purified " as He is
4. We trust in His promise who cannot lie, that the time
will surely come, when, in every word and work, we shall do
His blessed will on earth, as it is done in heaven ; when all
our conversation shall be seasoned with salt, all meet to
minister grace to the hearers ; when, whether we eat or
drink, or whatever we do, it shall be done to the glory of
God ; when all our words and deeds shall be " in the name
of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks unto God, even the Father,
5. Now this is the grand device of Satan, to destroy the
first work of God in the soul, or at least to hinder its increase,
by our expectation of that greater work. It is therefore my
present design, first, to point out the several ways whereby
he endeavours this : and, secondly, to observe how We may
retort these fiery darts of the wicked one ; how we may rise
the higher, by what he intends for an occasion of our falling.
I. I am, first, to point out the several ways whereby Satan
endeavours to destroy the first work of God in the soul, or at
east to hinder its increase, by our expectation of that greater
work. And, 1. He endeavours to damp our joy in the Lord,
by the consideration of our own vileness, sinfulness, unworthi-
ness ; added to this, that there must be a far greater change
than is yet, or we cannot see the Lord. If we knew we must
remain as we are, even to the day of our death, we might
possibly draw a kind of comfort, poor as it was, from that
necessity. But as we know we need not remain in this state,
as we are assured there is a greater change to come, and that
unless sin be all done away in this life, we cannot see God in
glory,— that subtle adversary often damps the joy we should
SATAN'S DEVICES. 169
otherwise feel in what we have already attained, by a per-
verse representation of what we have not attained, and the
absolute necessity of attaining it. So that we cannot rejoice
in what we have, because there is more which we have not.
We cannot rightly taste the goodness of God, who hath done
so great things for us, because there are so much greater
things which, as yet, He hath not done. Likewise, the deeper
conviction God works in us of our present unholiness, and
the more vehement desire we feel in our heart of the entire
holiness He hath promised, the more are we tempted to think
lightly of the present gifts of God, and to undervalue what
we have already received, because of what we have not
2. If he can prevail thus far, if he can damp our joy, he
will soon attack our peace also. He will suggest, " Are you
fit to see God ? He is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity.
How, then, can you flatter yourself, so as to imagine He be-
holds you with approbation ? God is holy : you are unholy.
What communion hath light with darkness ? How is it pos-
sible that you, unclean as you are, should be in a state of
acceptance with God ? You see indeed the mark, the prize
of your high calling ; but do you not see it is afar off ? How
can you presume then to think that all your sins are already
blotted out ? How can this be, until you are brought nearer
to God, until you bear more resemblance to Him ? " Thus will
he endeavour not only to shake your peace, but even to over-
turn the very foundation of it ; to bring you back, by insen-
sible degrees, to the point from whence you set out first, even
to seek for justification by works, or by your own righteous-
ness, — to make something in you the ground of your accept-
ance, or, at least, necessarily previous to it.
3. Or, if we hold fast, " Other foundation can no man lay
than that which is laid, even Jesus Christ ; " and, " 1 am jus-
tified freely by God's grace, through the redemption which is
in Jesus;" yet he will not cease to urge, "But the tree is
known by its fruits : and have you the fruits of justification ?
Is that mind in you which was in Christ Jesus Y Are you
dead unto sin, and alive unto righteousness Y Are you made
170 satah's devices.
conformable to the death, of Christ, and do you know the
power of His resurrection ? " And then, comparing the small
fruits we feel in our souls with the fulness of the promises,
we shall be ready to conclude, " Surely God hath not said
that my sins are forgiven me ! Surely ,1 have not received
the remission of my sins ; for what lot have I among them
that are sanctified ? "
4. More especially in the time of sickness and pain, he
will press this with all his might : " Is it, not the word of
Him that cannot lie, ' Without holiness no man shall see the
Lord ? ' But you are not holy ; you know it well ; you know
holiness is the full image of God ; and how far is this above,
out of your sight ? You cannot attain unto it. Therefore,
all your labour has been in vain. All these things you have
suffered in vain. You have spent your strength for nought.
You are yet in your sins, and musttherefore perish at the last."
.And thus, if your eye be not steadily fixed on Him who hath
borne all your sins, he will bring you again under that "fear
of death," whereby you was so long "subject unto bondage,"
and, by this means, impair, if not wholly destroy, your
peace, as well as joy in the Lord.
5. But his masterpiece of subtilty is still behind. Not
content to strike at your peace and joy, he will carry his
attempts farther yet : he will level his assault against your
righteousness also. He will endeavour to shake, yea, if it
be possible, to destroy, the holiness you have already received,
by your very expectation of receiving more, of attaining all
the image of God.
6. The manner wherein he attempts this, may partly ap-
pear from what has been already observed. For, first, by
striking at our joy in the Lord, he strikes likewise at our
holiness : seeing joy in the Holy Ghost is a precious means
of promoting every holy temper ; a choice instrument of God,
whereby He carries on much of His work in a believing soul.
And it is a considerable help, not only to inward, but also to
oat-./iii-J, holiness. It strengthens our hands to go on in the
work of faith, and in the labour of love ; manfully to " fight
the good fight of faith, and to lay hold on eternal life." It
satan's devices. 171
is peculiarly designed of God to be a balance both against
inward and outward sufferings ; to " lift up the hands that
hang down, and confirm the feeble knees." Consequently,
whatever damps our joy in the Lord, proportionably obstructs
our holiness. And therefore, so far as Satan shakes our joy,
he hinders our holiness also.
7. The same effect will ensue, if he can, by any means,
either destroy or shake our peace. For the peace of God is
another precious means of advancing the image of God in us.
There is scarce a greater help to holiness than this, a con-
tinual tranquillity of spirit, the evenness of a mind stayed
upon God, a calm repose in the blood of Jesus. And without
this, it is scarce possible to "grow in grace," and in the vital
" knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." For all fear (unless
the tender, filial fear) freezes and benumbs the soul. It binds
up all the springs of spiritual life, and stops all motion of
the heart toward God. And doubt, as it were, bemires the
soul, so that it sticks fast in the deep clay. Therefore, in
the same proportion as either of these prevail, our growth
in holiness is hindered.
8. At the same time that our wise adversary endeavours 1
to make our conviction of the necessity of perfect love an '
occasion of shaking our peace by doubts, and fears, he endea-
vours to weaken, if not destroy, our faith. Indeed these are
inseparably connected, so that they must stand or fall together
So long as faith subsists, we remain in peace; our heart stands
fast, while it believes in the Lord. But if we let go our
....;ii. our ii!.al confidence iu a loving, pardoning God, our
peace is at an end, the very foundation on which it stood
being overthrown. And this is the only foundation of holi-
ness, as well as of peace; consequently, whatever strikes at
this, strikes at the very root of all holiness : for without
this faith, without an abiding sense that Christ loved me,
and gave Himself for me, without a continuing conviction
that (iod fur Christ's sake is merciful to me a sinner, it is
: ..: ;s-ibh- 1 iiat i should, love (iod: '" We love Ilim. because
He first, loved us;" and m proportion to < lie strength and
clearness of our conviction that He hath loved us, and ac-
172 Satan's devices.
cepted lis in His Son. And unless we love God, it is not
possible thai we should love our neighbour as ourselves ; nor,
consequently, that we should have any right affections, either
toward God, or toward man. It evidently follows, that
whatever weakens our faith, must, in the same degree,
obstruct our holiness : and this is not only the most effec-
tual, but also the most compendious way of destroying all
holiness ; seeing it does not affect any one Christian tem-
per, any single grace or fruit of the Spirit, but, so far as
it succeeds, tears Up the very root of the whole work of God.
9. No marvel, therefore, that the ruler of the darkness of
this world should here put forth all his strength. And so we
find by experience. For it is far easier to conceive, than it is
to express, the unspeakable violence wherewith this tempta-
tion is frequently urged on them who hunger and thirst after
righteousness. When they see, in a strong and clear light,
on the one hand, the desperate wickedness of their own
hearts, — on the other hand, the unspotted holiness to which
they are called in Christ Jesus ; on the one hand, the depth
of their own corruption, of their total alienation from God, —
on the other, the height of the Glory of God, that image of
the Holy One, wherein they are to be renewed ; there is, many
times, no spirit left in them; they could almost cry out,
" With God this is impossible ! " They are ready to give up
both faith and hope ; to cast away that very confidence,
whereby they are to overcome all things, through Christ
strengthening them ; whereby, " after they have done the will
of God," they are to " receive the promise."
10. And if they " hold fast the beginning of their confi-
dence steadfast unto the end," they shall undoubtedly receive
the promise of God, reaching through both time and eternity.
But here is another snare laid for our feet : while we earnestly
pant for that part of the promise which is to be accomplished
here, " for the glorious liberty of the children of God," we
may be lead unawares from the consideration of the glory
which shall hereafter be revealed. Our eye may be insensibly
turned aside from that crown which the righteous Judge hath
promised to give at that day " to all that love His appearing;"
SATAX'S DEVICES. 173
and we may be drawn away from the view of that incorruptible
inheritance which is reserved in heaven for us. But this
also would be a loss to our souls, and an obstruction to
our holiness. For to walk in the continual sight of our
goal, is a needful help in our running the race that is set
before us. This it was, the having " respect unto the recom-
pence of the reward," which, of old time, encouraged Moses,
rather " to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to
enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach
of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt." Nay,
it is expressly said of a greater than he, that " for the joy
that was set before Him, he endured the cross, and despised
the shame," till He " sat down at the right hand of the throne
of God." Whence we may easily infer, how much more
needful for us is the view of that joy set before us, that we
may endure whatever cross the wisdom of God lays upon us,
and press on through holiness to glory.
ii. But while we are reaching to this, as well as to that
glorious liberty which is preparatory to it, we may be in
danger of falling into another snare of the devil, wherein he
labours to entangle the children of God. We may take too
much thought for to-morrow, so as to neglect the improve-
ment of to-day. We may so expect perfect love, as not to
use that which is already shed abroad in our hearts. There
have not been wanting instances of those who have greatly
suffered hereby. They were so taken up with what they
were to receive hereafter, as utterly to neglect what they had
already received. In expectation of hiving five talents more,
they buried their one talent in the earth. At least, they did
not improve it as they might have done, to the glory of God,
and the good of their own souls.
12. Thus does the subtle adversary of Cod and man en-
deavour to make void the counsel of God, by dividing tho
Gospel against itself, and making one part of it overthrow
the other; while the first work of God in the soul is de-
stroyed by tho expectation of His perfect work. We have seen
several of the ways wherein he attempts this, by cutting off,
as it were, the springs of holiness. But this he likewise
174 satan's devices.
does more directly, by making that blessed hope an occasion
of unholy tempers.
13. Thus, whenever our heart is eagerly athirst for all
the great and precious promises ; -when we pant after the
fulness of God, as the hart after the water-brook ; when our
soul breaketh 6ut in fervent desire, "Why are His chariot-
wheels so long a-coming ? " — he will not neglect the oppor-
tunity of tempting us to murnmr against God. He will use
all his wisdom, and all his strength, if haply, in an unguarded
hour, we may be influenced to repine at our Lord for thus
delaying His coming. At least, he will labour to excite some
degree of fretfulness or impatience ; and, perhaps, of envy
at those whom we believe to have already attained the prize
of our high calling. He well knows, that, by giving way to
any of these tempers, we are pulling down the very thing
we would build up. By thus following after perfect holiness,
we become more unholy than before. Tea, there is great
danger that our last state should be worse than the first ;
like them of whom the Apostle speaks in tbnse dreadful
words, " It had been better for them not to have known the
way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn
from the holy commandment delivered to them."
[ 14. And from hence he hopes to reap another advantage,
even to bring up an evil report of the good way. He is sen-
sible, how few are able to distinguish (and too many are not
willing so to do) between the accidental abuse, and the
natural tendency, of a doctrine. These, therefore, will he
continually blend together, with regard to the doctrine of
Christian perfection ; in order to prejudice the minds of
unwary men against the glorious promises of God. And
how frequently, how generally, I had almost said how uni-
versally, has he prevailed herein ! For who is there that
observes any of these accidental ill effects of this doctrine,
and does not immediately conclude, this is its natural ten-
dency ; and does not readily cry out, '' See, these are the
fruits (meaning the natural, necessary fruits) of such doc-
trine ? " Not so : they are fruits which may accidentally
spring from the abuse of a great and precious truth : but
satan's devices. 175
the abuse of this, or any other scriptural doctrine, does by
no means destroy its use. Neither can the unfaithfulness
of man, perverting his right way, make the promise of God
of no effect. No : let God be true, and every man a liar.
The word of the Lord, it shall stand. " Faithful is He that
hath promised: He also will do it." Let not us then be
"removed from the hope of the Gospel." Rather let us
observe, which was the second thing proposed, how we may
retort these fiery darts of the wicked one ; how we mav rise
the higher by what he intends for an occasion of our falling.
II. i. And, first, does Satan endeavour to damp your
joy in the Lord, by the consideration of your sinfulness ;
added to this, that without entire, universal holiness, no man
can see the Lord ? You may cast back this dart upon his
own head, while, through the grace of God, the more you feel
of your own vileness, the more you rejoice in confident hope,
that all this shall be done away. While you hold fast this
hope, every evil temper you feel, though you hate it with a
perfect hatred, may be a means, not of lessening your humble
joy, but rather of increasing it. " This and this," may you
say, " shall likewise perish from the presence of the Lord.
Like as the wax melteth at the fire, so shall this melt away
before His face." By this means, the greater that change
is which remains to be wrought in your soul, the more you
may triumph in the Lord, and rejoice in the Ciod of your
salvation, who hath done so great things for you already,
and will do so much greater things than these.
2. Secondly : the more vehemently he assaults your peace
with that suggestion ; " God is holy ; you are unholy; you
are immensely distant from that holiness without which yon
cannot see God : how then can you lie in the favour of God ?
How can* you fancy you are justified?" — take the more
earnest heed to hold fast that, "Not by works of righteous-
ness which I have done, I am found in Him ; I am accepted
in the Beloved, not having my own righteousness, (as the
cause, either in whole or in part, of our justification before
God,) but that which is by faith in Christ, the righteousness
176 SATAn's DEVICES,
which is of God by faith." O bind this about your neck :
write it upon the table of thy heart, "Wear it as a bracelet
upon thy arm, as frontlets between thine eyes : " I am justi-
fied freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in
Jesus Christ." Value and esteem, more and more, that
precious truth, "By grace we are saved through faith."
Admire, more and more, the free grace of God, in so loving
the world as to give " His only-begotten Son, that whosoever
believeth on Him might not perish, but have everlasting
life." So shall the sense of the sinfulness you feel, on the.
one hand, and of the holiness you expect, on the other, both
contribute to establish your peace, and to make it flow as a
river. So shall that peace flow on with an even stream, in
spite of all those mountains of ungodliness, which shall
become a plain in the day when the Lord cometh to take
full possession of your heart. Neither will sickness, or pain,
or the approach of death occasion any doubt or fear. You
know a day, an hour, a moment, with God, is as a thousand
years. He cannot be straitened for time wherein to work
whatever remains to be done in your soul. And God's time
is always the best time. Therefore be thou careful for
nothing : only make thy requests known unto Him, and that,
not with doubt or fear, but thanksgiving; as being pre-
viously assured, He cannot withhold from thee any manner
of thing that is good.
3. Thirdly: the more you are tempted to give up your
shield, to cast away your faith, your confidence in His love, so
much the more take heed that you hold fast that whereunto
you have attained ; so much the more labour to stir up the
gift of God which is in you. Never let that slip, " I have ' an
Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous;' and,
' The life I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God, who,
loved me, and gave Himself for me.' " Be this thy glory,
and crown of rejoicing ; and see that no one take thy crown.
Hold that fast: "I know that my Redeemer liveth, and
shall stand at the latter day upon the earth : " and, " I now
'have redemption in His blood, even the forgiveness of sins.' "
Thus, being filled with all peace and joy in believing, press
satan's devices. 177
on, in the peace and joy of faith, to the renewal of thy whole
soul in the image of Him that created thee ! Meanwhile, cry
continually to God, that thou mayest see that prize of thy
high calling, not as Satan represents it, in a horrid, dreadful
shape, but in its genuine, native beauty ; not as something
that must be, or thou wilt go to hell, but as what may be, to
lead thee to heaven. Look upon it as the most desirable gift
which is in all the stores of the rich mercies of God. Behold-
ing it in this true point of light, thou wilt hunger after it
more and more ; thy whole soul will be athirst for God, and
for this glorious conformity to His likeness ; and, having re-
ceived a good hope of this, and strong consolation through
grace, thou wilt no more be weary or faint in thy mind, but
wilt follow on till thou attainest.
4. In the same power of faith, press on to glory. Indeed,
this is the same prospect still. God hath joined from the
beginning, pardon, holiness, heaven. And why should mar
put them asunder ? O beware of this ! Let not one link oi
the golden chain be broken. "God for Christ's sake hath
forgiven me. He is now renewing me in His own image
Shortly He will make me meet for Himself, and take me tc
stand before His face. I, whom He hath justified through th<
blood of His Son, being thoroughly sanctified by His Spirit
shall quickly ascend to the 'New Jerusalem, the city of tin
living God.' Yet a little while and I shall 'come to tin
general assembly and church of the first-born, and to God th<
Judge of all, and to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant.
How soon will these shadows flee away, and the day of (tri-
nity dawn upon me. How soon shall I drink of ' tlic rive
of the water of life, going out of the throne of God and o
the Lamb ! There all His servants shallpraise Him, and slial
see His face, and His nameshall be upon their foreheads. Am
no night shall be there ; and they have no need of a candk
or the light of the sun. For the Lord God enlighteneth them
and they shall reign for ever and ever.' "
5. And if you thus " taste of the good word, and of th
powers of the world to come," you will not murmur againa
God, because you are not yet " meet for the inheritance of th
saints in light." Instead of repining at your not being wholly
delivered, you will praise God for thus far delivering you.
You will magnify God for what He hath done, and take it as
an earnest of what He will do. You will not fret against Him,
because you are not yet renewed, but bless Him because you
shall be ; and because " now is your salvation " from all sin
'" nearer than when you" first " believed." Instead of uselessly
tormenting yourself because the time is not fully come, you
will calmly and quietly wait for it, knowing that it "will come,
and will not tarry." You may therefore the more cheerfully
endure, as yet, the burden of sin that still remains in you,
because it will not always remain. Yet a little while, and it
shall be clean gone. Only " tarry thou the Lord's leisure:"
be strong, and " He shall comfort thy heart ; " and put thou
thy trust in the Lord !
6. And if you see any w r ho appear (so far as man can
judge, but God alone searcheth the hearts) to be already
partakers of their hope, already '' made perfect in love ; " far
from eDvying the grace of God in them, let it rejoice and
comfort your heart. Glorify God for their sake ! " If one
member is honoured," shall not " all the members rejoice with
it ? " Instead of jealousy or evil surmising concerning them,
praise God for the consolation! Rejoice in having a fresh
proof of the faithfulness of God, in fulfilling all His promises;
and stir yourself up the more to " apprehend that for which
you are also apprehended of Christ Jesus ! "
7. In order to this, redeem the time. Improve the present
moment. Buy up every opportunity of growing in grace, or
of doing good. Let not the thought of receiving more grace
to-morrow, make you negligent of to-day. You have one
talent now : if you expect five more, so much the rather im-
prove that you have. And the more you expect to receive
hereafter, the more labour for God now. Sufficient for the
day is the grace thereof . God is now pouring His benefits
upon you : now approve yourself a faithful steward of the
present grace of God. Whatever may be to-morrow, give all
diligence to-day to " add to your faith courage, temperance,
patience, brotherly- kindness," and the fear of God, till you
SATAN'S PFVIfES. 179
attain that pure and perfeet love! Lot these things bo now
"in you, and abound ! " lie not, now slothful or unfruitful :
'so shall an entrance be ministered unto von into tho over-
lasting kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ !"
8. Lastly: if in tiino past you have abused I his blessed
hope of being holy as lie is holy, yet do not therefore east it
away. Let the abuse eease, the use remain. Use it now to
the more abundant glory of Cod, and profit of your own soul.
In steadfast faith, in ealmtran.piillit y of spirit, in full assur-
ance of hope, rejoicing evermore for what (bid hath done.
press ye on unto perfection! Daily growing in the know-
ledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, and going on from strength
to strength, in resignation, in patience, in humble thankful-
ness for what yo have attained, and for what ye shall, run the
race set before you, " looking unto Jesus," till, through per-
fect love, ye enter into His glory !
Which of Satan s devices are most hindering to the pursuit of holiness ?
" Satan attempts to destroy the Jirxt work of God in the soul, or at
least to hinder its increase, by our expectation of that greater n-or7?,''
etc. — Sec. 1. 1, 2.
In what way does Satan press this assault upon the believer's peace 1
" He will not cease to urge : ' But the tree is known by its fruits,' "
etc.— Sec. I. 3.
At what seasons does Satan especially urge this temptation 1
" In the time of sickness and pain," etc. — Sec. I. 4.
What is Satan's masterpiece of subtlety ?
"Kot content to strike at your peace and joy, he will level
his assault against your righteousness also," etc — Sec. I. 5, 6.
In what way does joy advance holiness 1
See Sec. I. 6.
How does peace advance holiness 1
What is the effect of slavish fear ?
" All fear (unless the tender filial fear) freezes and benumbs the
soul," etc.— Sec. I. 7
180 SATAN'S DEVICES.
What Christian grace does Satan next attack ?
" He endeavours to weaken, if not destroy, our faith, y etc. — Sec.
What is the next fortress of a believer's privilege that Satan strives to
" Hope of the glory which shall hereafter be revealed." — Sec. I. 10.
Into what other mistake does Satan strive to entrap the believer ?
" We may so expect perfect love, as not to use the love already
shed abroad in our hearts." — Sec. I. 11.
When are we most liable to be taken in this snare ?
" Whenever our heart is eagerly athirst for all the great and pre-
cious promises," etc.: — Sec. I. 13.
How may we " resist these fiery darts of the wicked one " 1
See Sec. II. 1, 2.
What is the true evangelical light in which Christian perfection is to be
" Not as something that must be, or thou wilt go to hell, but as
what may be to lead thee to heaven." " Instead of repining that you
are not wholly delivered, praise God for thus far delivering you."
HAYMAN BBOTHKRS ANP LILIY, 118, FAEBWSDQB KOAp, LONDON, B.Q.